Rosie Duffield, MP for Canterbury, is calling for a review of the classification of nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. There is currently no law against possessing the drug meaning police have little power to prevent users abusing it.
Ms Duffield will address the House of Commons on the subject today (Tuesday).
Reclassification would allow authorities to take stronger action against those supplying and misusing the substance.
Speaking to The Journal Ms Duffield said:
“Use of Nitrous Oxide has seemingly risen in lockdown, as can be seen by the huge amount of silver canisters that litter our beaches and parks. The drug is thought by many to be harmless, but that is itself a myth: nitrous oxide can actually cause a whole range of long term side effects and many families – including local families – have been affected by its misuse.”
“We need tighter restrictions on the sale of the drug and hopefully with tighter restrictions will come a greater awareness and an end to all those littered canisters being yet another rubbish eyesore.”
Nitrous Oxide, often known as ‘Nos’, has a variety of legitimate uses, such as pain relief during dental procedures and an aerosol propellant for whipped cream.
Abuse of the substance is not new, with ‘laughing gas parties’ being recorded as early at the 1790s. However, the sight of tiny silver capsules has become familiar in recent years as the drug’s popularity and availability has increased.
Thought by some to be harmless, and sometimes dubbed ‘hippie crack’, nitrous oxide abuse can starve the brain of oxygen, especially when inhaled direct from a canister.
Nos is not just harmful to the user, it is increasingly linked to other serious crimes.
In 2018 Kent Serious Collision Investigation Unit (SCIU) prosecuted a driver who was sentenced to 8 years and 8 months in prison, following a fatal collision where Nos was used.