Nitrous Oxide To Become Illegal Class C Substance In UK

Photo Credit – Photo-by-Rob-Brewer

Nitrous oxide, popularly known as laughing gas, is to become an illegal class C substance by the end of the year, under a zero-tolerance approach to antisocial behaviour the government has said.

Possession of nitrous oxide, also known as NOS, will carry a sentence of up to two years in prison. According to statistics, nitrous oxide was the third most used drug in 2020, and is typically used in social situations, including, nightclubs, and festivals.

Heavy use can lead to a range of illnesses including nerve-related symptoms.

Supply of nitrous oxide for recreational use is currently banned – but possession is not.

The government originally announced its plan to ban nitrous oxide earlier this year as part of a plan to tackle anti-social behaviour, however, set out new details of the law change earlier this week.

It said those found in unlawful possession of the drug could face up to two years in prison or an unlimited fine, with up to 14 years for supply or production.

CEO of Night-time Industries Association Michael Kill said:
“We welcome the announcement by the Government today that Nitrous oxide is set to be banned under new government legislation by the end of the year, but recognise that this must work hand in hand with a much broader education and harm reduction strategy on drugs across the country.

“Over the years, the industry has grappled with the persistent issue of nitrous oxide’s sale and consumption, which has been exacerbated by existing regulations that have rendered licensees and authorities ill-equipped to combat this problem effectively.

“The burden on businesses has been substantial, as they’ve contended with mounting pressure from authorities and residents due to the proliferation of discarded silver canisters on the streets.

“This predicament has not only posed risks to the well-being of both staff and patrons but has also fostered an environment conducive to petty crime, anti-social behaviour, and the activities of organised crime syndicates.

“The government’s intervention comes at a pivotal juncture, given that businesses in major cities across the United Kingdom have witnessed a significant escalation in the challenges associated with nitrous oxide over the past 6-12 months.”