News

RPS welcomes nitrous oxide review

RPS has welcomed the news that unlawful possession of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) could be made a crime.

The supply of nitrous oxide as a drug is illegal but it is readily available to buy online in the form of whipped cream chargers.

Because of its availability, the recreational use of laughing gas is widespread yet there are various health risks around inhalation.

The drug is used to achieve a brief high by slowing down responses in the brain and body. Inhaling nitrous oxide depletes vitamin B12 and repeated use can damage nerves and even the spinal cord, leading to a loss of feeling and use in the limbs.

Now, the Home Office has called on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to review the harm caused by nitrous oxide – and Home Secretary Priti Patel could take “tough action” on laughing gas users.

Chief Scientist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Professor Gino Martini said: “It’s good to see this review will take place. Nitrous oxide carries various health risks including depletion of Vitamin B12, which can cause damage to the spinal cord and with repeated use can lead to loss of feeling in the limbs and potential paralysis. Other side-effects can include dizziness, hallucinations and irregular heartbeats.”

Watch Gino talk about the dangers of nitrous oxide, and his support for the review, on the BBC News Channel today:

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