THE government has said that there are no plans to follow the UK in making possession of nitrous oxide illegal in Jersey, explaining that misuse of the gas had not been a factor in any reported incidents locally.
Nitrous oxide – often known as ‘nos’ or ‘laughing gas’ – is sold in metal canisters and inhaled by users to create feelings of euphoria, relaxation and calmness.
Fits of giggles and laughter are also common, hence the nickname ‘laughing gas’. It is said to be one of the most-used drugs in the UK by 16-to-24-year-olds.
Recently, the UK government announced plans to make possessing laughing gas a criminal offence for the first time. They also promising tighter controls on retailers to prevent the supply of nitrous oxide for misuse.
However, the government has said that the gas is not illegal in Jersey and there are no plans to change this, as nitrous oxide is not a factor in any reported incidents in the Island.
Outlining the reasons behind the nitrous oxide ban, the UK government cited health and social harms, including the possibility that heavy use of the gas can lead to a vitamin deficiency that damages nerves in the spinal column.
However, several UK drugs charities have criticised the announcement, claiming that criminalising possession could lead to the drug becoming more dangerous.
It is already illegal to produce or supply the gas for its psychoactive effects – so production, supply and importation of nitrous oxide for human consumption is already illegal, but not possession.
The change is part of a crackdown on anti-social behaviour, which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is due to announce for England and Wales.