New legislation on legal highs has been passed which makes it illegal to produce and distribute psychoactive substances such as laughing gas.
It is now illegal to produce, supply, offer to supply, possess with intent to supply, import or export a psychoactive substance.
The legislation applies throughout the UK and enables authorities to seize and destroy legal highs, carry out searches and issue prohibition orders on drug sellers. The main intention of the act is to shut down shops and websites that currently trade in ‘legal highs’.
Legitimate substances are excluded from the bill, such as food, tobacco, nicotine, caffeine and medical products, as well as controlled drugs, which continue to be regulated by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Possession for personal use will not be an offence, but those producing, distributing, selling or supplying new psychoactive substances could face up to seven years in jail.
One of the most popular psychoactive substances is nitrous oxide (N2O), also known as laughing gas or hippy crack.
Nitrous oxide is a compound of both oxygen (O2) and nitrogen (N), and despite previous confusion from those working in the beverage and hospitality, it must be stressed that the inert gas nitrogen is not the same as laughing gas.
In 2014 nitrous oxide was used by almost half a million young people at nightspots, festivals and parties and last year more than 3,500 canisters of nitrous oxide were seized by police at Notting Hill Carnival.
It is classed as a safe gas when used under controlled conditions for legal purposes such as an anaesthetic at the dentist, or an aerosol spray propellant for whipped cream.
However last year we looked at the dangers of hippy crack when used recreationally and highlighted the serious effects it can have on a person.
Short term effects of inhaling nitrous oxide include headaches, dizziness and unconsciousness, but if used excessively this can lead to anaemia, asphyxia and even death.
The Psychoactive Substances Act has only just come into force, so only time will tell if this new legislation is effective.
Author: Araminta Hartley, Content Writer
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