Rachel has welcomed the possession of ‘laughing gas’ now being illegal.
The ban, which comes into force today (November 8th), makes nitrous oxide a Class C drug controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. This means possession of nitrous oxide, where a person intends to wrongfully inhale it for a psychoactive effect, is now an offence.
Consequences could include an unlimited fine, a visible community punishment, a caution (which would appear on their criminal record) and for repeat serious offenders, a prison sentence.
Earlier this year, Rachel met with the local policing inspector where they discussed the impact of ‘laughing gas’. She then spoke in Parliament where she called on the Government to ban this drug.
The Home Secretary also urged police forces to get tougher on flagrant drug taking in local communities, with reports linking nitrous oxide to anti-social behaviour such as intimidating gatherings on high streets and in children’s parks, and often leaving empty canisters scattered across public spaces.
“Having spoken to the local police about this issue and called on the Government to ban this drug during a debate in Parliament, I’m pleased to see decisive action to get laughing gas off our streets.
“This Government takes a zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour which blights local communities, and we will continue to work hard to make our streets safer.”
There are still many necessary uses for nitrous oxide in healthcare and other industries, and those with a legitimate reason for possessing the substance will be exempt from the ban. For example, it will continue to be lawful for catering purposes and in maternity wards when used as pain relief during labour, as well as for other activities such as use in industry, dentistry, or model rocketry.
Licences will not be required to carry nitrous oxide, but individual users will need to demonstrate they are lawfully in possession of nitrous oxide and not intending to wrongfully inhale it.
The maximum sentence for production, supply importation or exportation of the drug for unlawful purposes has now doubled, from 7 to 14 years’ imprisonment.