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Laughing Stock: UK Poised to Outlaw Laughing Gas to Curb 'Anti-Social Behavior'

CC BY 2.0 / ProMo-Cymru / Empty Laughing Gas CanistersEmpty laughing gas canisters.
Empty laughing gas canisters. - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.01.2023
The new legislation would allow the possession of laughing gas only by people who have a "legitimate reason."
London has moved to ban the sale and possession of nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said this move is aimed at curbing antisocial behavior that "causes misery in communities," and insisted that the government is "determined to crack down on this scourge to protect our streets."

"We have been clear we want to see common sense policing to keep our communities safe,” they said, as quoted by one UK media outlet. "That is why we are actively considering a ban on the sale and use of this harmful drug and will ask the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to hasten their delivery of the report we commissioned, which we will carefully consider in reaching any decision."

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) director, Alexis Goosdeel, also warned in November that "the rise in the recreational use of nitrous oxide in some parts of Europe is a cause for concern."

"There is a general perception among users that inhalation of nitrous oxide is safe,” Goosdeel said at the time. "Yet we see that more frequent or heavier use of the gas increases the risk of serious harms."

While selling the gas for inhaling is already illegal under existing British legislation, the revision of these laws may only allow possession of this substance for those with legitimate reasons, such as doctors who use it as a pain reliever.
Under the new rules, however, even those with legitimate reasons to use the gas might be required to procure a license, the media outlet noted, citing a source in the Home Office.
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The penalty for the illegal possession of the laughing gas reportedly may be up to two years of jail or an "unlimited fine", while those caught supplying it might get locked up in prison for up to 14 years.
The use of laughing gas as a party drug is widespread among British youth, with it being the "second-most-commonly used drug among 16 to 24-year-olds," the media outlet suggested. Cannabis is the most common.
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