Nitrous Oxide Ban Update

19 Oct

We have previously reported on the government’s intention to address the increased use of Nitrous Oxide as a drug, particularly by younger users, by banning it.

The ban will come into force on November 8th and will make nitrous oxide a controlled Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, after MPs voted overwhelmingly to have it categorised as a Class C drug, by 404 votes to 36.

The Home Office have released an update on the position: 'Nitrous oxide to be illegal from November'.

This confirms that the legislation is part of the government’s Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan

A key element in the legislation as placed before parliament is the offence arises when a person is in possession of nitrous oxide, where a person intends to wrongfully inhale it – for example ‘to get high’. Consequences could include:

  • an unlimited fine
  • a visible community punishment
  • a caution – which would appear on their criminal record
  • a prison sentence for repeat serious offenders.

This will be an evidential burden to be made out by the police against those they seek to prosecute.

The legislation acknowledges the potential legitimate use of the gas, as licences will not be required to carry nitrous oxide, but individual users will need to demonstrate they are lawfully in possession of nitrous oxide and not intending to consume it for its psychoactive effects.

CEO of Night-time Industries Association Michael Kill said:

“We welcome the announcement by the government today that nitrous oxide is set to be banned under new government legislation by the 8th of November, but recognise that this must work hand in hand with a much broader education and harm reduction strategy on drugs across the country.”.

“The burden on businesses has been substantial, as they’ve contended with mounting pressure from authorities and residents due to the proliferation of discarded silver canisters on the streets.”

“This predicament has not only posed risks to the wellbeing of both staff and patrons but has also fostered an environment conducive to petty crime, antisocial behaviour, and the activities of organised crime syndicates.”

Law correct at the date of publication.
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