New law classifies nitrous oxide or ‘laughing gas’ as a Class C drug
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This means possession of nitrous oxide, where a person intends to wrongfully inhale it for a psychoactive effect, is now an offence.
From today (Wednesday 8 November), repeat serious users of nitrous oxide could face a prison sentence of up to two years, and dealers up to 14 years. If found in possession, criminal prosecutions could include an unlimited fine, a visible community punishment or a caution (which would appear on their criminal record).
Heavy, regular abuse of the drug also poses significant health risks for users including anaemia and in more severe cases, nerve damage or paralysis. It has been identified as having potentially fatal consequences on the UK’s roads from incidents of drug driving.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Oughton, who is South Yorkshire Police’s force lead for drugs, urged people to familiarise themselves with the new law: “As a force, we welcome the change in the law and the ban of nitrous oxide, which means that it will now be a criminal offence to possess nitrous oxide, without legitimate reason.
“Not only do the canisters litter the streets and public spaces but their use is linked to anti-social behaviour. We also know that unfortunately the use of nitrous oxide, which is most common amongst young people, puts people’s health at risk.”
He continued: “We are encouraging people to familiarise themselves with the changes in the law and to really think about the possible consequences of possessing, selling or inhaling this substance. If you see any suspicious activity where you think nitrous oxide is being consumed, please report it to us via or our online portal www.southyorks.police.uk/contact-us/report-something/ .”
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, has commended the decision to ban the possession of nitrous oxide as a significant step towards safeguarding communities and protecting the health and well-being of South Yorkshire’s residents.
Commenting on the ban he said: “Nitrous oxide, once primarily used in medical and dental procedures, has gained popularity as a recreational drug in recent years. The ban on its possession is a crucial measure to address the growing concerns surrounding its misuse and the associated anti-social behaviour.
“The ban will empower police officers to take immediate action against those found in possession of nitrous oxide, deterring its use and distribution. In turn, this will hopefully disrupt the supply chain and dismantle criminal networks involved in the illegal trade of this substance.
“People often contact me about the way discarded nitrous oxide canisters disfigure their communities. Hopefully we will see an end to this as well.”
Heavy, regular abuse of the drug poses significant health risks for users including anaemia and in more severe cases, nerve damage or paralysis.
It has been identified as having potentially fatal consequences on the UK’s roads from incidents of drug driving.
For more visit the website https://southyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/