Laughing gas to be banned by 2024 as hippy crack becomes class C drug

Nitrous oxide, aka ‘laughing gas’, is set to be outlawed as a class C drug by the end of 2023, says government officials.

This means anyone found using the substance illegally could face up to two years behind bars, while those selling it would face up to 14 years in the slammer.

Nitrous oxide is the second most commonly used drug among those aged 16-24 – only beaten by cannabis.

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But inhaling the popular party drug has also caused a spike in hospital admissions, according to a doctor who spoke to Sky News.

Back in March Michael Gove announced that the government planned to ban the substance as part of plans to crack down on antisocial behaviour.

While a review commissioned by the Home Office did not recommend an all-out ban, the MP has announced plans to take it further.

In a statement, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: "The British people are fed up with yobs abusing drugs in public spaces and leaving behind a disgraceful mess for others to clean up.

"Earlier this year the prime minister and I promised a zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour and that is what we are delivering.

"If you are caught using 'laughing gas' as a drug, you could be hit with a hefty fine or face jail time."

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The home secretary said new schemes are already underway to increase police patrols in hotspot areas where punishments can be given out more quickly.

Data provided by the London Ambulance Service and given to Sky News showed that 999 calls for incidents relating to nitrous oxide more than tripled in a year.

In 2021 there were 65 calls recorded, compared to 213 in 2022 – up from 36 calls in 2018.

These patients can suffer from a range of problems, from loss of mobility to mental health issues and sexual dysfunction.

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Two nitrous oxide patients have even had to have drains inserted into their brains to save their eyesight.

The ban was promised as part of the government's Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan, with the home Secretary urging police forces to get tougher on drug taking in the streets.

Crime and Policing Minister Chris Philp said: "We cannot allow young people to think there are no consequences to misusing drugs.

"There is no question that abusing laughing gas is dangerous to people's health and it is paramount we take decisive action before the situation gets worse."

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