Plans by the Home Office to ban the sale and possession of nitrous oxide in the UK are being pushed forwards, as part of a crackdown on “antisocial behaviour.”
The policy is being pushed by Conservative Home Secretary Suella Braverman, according to The Guardian, and would likely lead to those caught with containers being prosecuted — perhaps as strongly as if they were in possession or selling cannabis.
Often called “nos” or “laughing gas”, nitrous oxide is often inhaled through balloons via small metal canisters and leads to a short high.
Read this next: Bust to boom: How drugs won the war on drugs
It also has a number of legal, legitimate uses in society – whipped cream is made using it, as well as being used as pain relief in hospitals.
The supply of nitrous oxide for recreational purposes is already illegal, under the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act, but the new legislation would look to make it easier to prosecute those found with it, with harsher punishments.
In 2021, the first moves made towards banning the drug came when then Home Secretary Priti Patel asked the Independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to review the effects of nitrous oxide, with the potential to ban it.
Read this next: Man took “40000 ecstasy pills over nine years” and survived
At the time, The Royal Society for Public Health opposed the move. Burcu Borysik, the head of policy told The Guardian: “The government’s insistence on criminalisation and incarceration for minor drug offences worsens problems linked to illicit drug use, including social inequality and violence.
“The heavy-handed enforcement approach to drugs does nothing but spread fear among young people, prevents them from seeking the support they need, and unnecessarily drags them into the criminal justice system,” he continued.
Concerns have been raised by some medical professionals over the drug’s short and long term impacts on the body, with The Guardian reporting in August 2022 that doctors had found rises in nerve damage and spinal cord damage as a result of taking the drug, as well as neurological problems.
In November, the EU’s drug monitoring agency EMCDDA also raised concerns over the rise of nitrous oxide consumption among people in the bloc, with a report saying that there had been a “small but significant rise” in related poisonings and health problems since 2017.
[Via: The Guardian]
Isaac Muk is Mixmag’s Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter
Written by: Tim Hopkins