Hertfordshire Police warns residents that widely used recreational drug is set to become illegal

Anyone caught using it could be sent to prison
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The recreational use of nitrous oxide is set to be made illegal this week.

The Government is making the substance, which is also known as laughing gas, a controlled Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, saying it is often linked to antisocial behaviour.

Under the new legislation anyone found guilty of using it could be jailed for up to two years, while those supplying it for recreational use could be behind bars for up to 14 years.

nitrous oxide containers are often seen in parks, photo from Hertfordshire Constabularynitrous oxide containers are often seen in parks, photo from Hertfordshire Constabulary
nitrous oxide containers are often seen in parks, photo from Hertfordshire Constabulary

The drug is commonly used in Milton Keynes and the telltale little silver bullet-shaped containers are often seen littered in local areas.

Herts police Community Safety Inspector Nicola Dean said: “Nitrous oxide is frequently linked to antisocial behaviour within the community and often leaves empty canisters littered across public spaces including children’s play areas.

“Heavy, regular use also poses significant health risks for users, who are predominantly young people and can cause nerve damage, paralysis or asphyxiation. It has been linked to potentially fatal incidents of drug driving.

Read More
Kings Langley landlord fined for renting out property without working heating

“There are still many necessary uses for nitrous oxide and those with a legitimate reason for possessing the substance will be exempt from the ban. Licences will not be required to carry it, but individual users will need to demonstrate they are lawfully in possession of nitrous oxide and not intending to consume it for psychoactive effects.

"The maximum sentence for production, supply importation or exportation of the drug for unlawful purposes has now doubled, from seven to 14 years’ imprisonment.”

Secondary legislation will mean possession of nitrous oxide, where a person intends to wrongfully inhale it – for example ‘to get high’ – will be an offence. Consequences for breaking the new laws could include:

-an unlimited fine

-a visible community punishment

-a conditional caution – which would appear on your criminal record

-a community resolution

-a prison sentence for repeat serious offenders.

The drug can cause feelings of euphoria and fits of giggles and laughter, hence the name laughing gas. But it is dangerous to use and too much can cause people to fall unconscious or even suffocate to death due to lack of oxygen.

For more information visit the Talk to Frank website here.