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Possession of nitrous oxide, also known as NOS, has become a criminal offence in the UK.

Now categorised as a class C drug, possession of laughing gas for its “psychoactive effects” will carry a sentence of up to two years in prison.

Nitrous oxide – which causes euphoria but can damage the nervous system – is one of the most commonly used recreational drugs by 16 to 24-year-olds.

Under the new rules, those found in unlawful possession of the drug could now face a prison sentence or unlimited fine, with up to 14 years for supply or production.

Police and Crime Commissioner and Senior Responsible Officer for the Combatting Drugs Partnership in West Mercia, John Campion said:

“It’s welcome news for communities across West Mercia that nitrous oxide is now classified as a Class C drug with powers to tackle recreational use.

“I have seen first-hand the damage drugs cause in our communities and we know nitrous oxide is popular with young people with signs of its use often littered in public spaces.

“As PCC, I understand this clamp down will only be successful with a strong multi-agency approach.

“I am committed to ensuring specialist support is in place to intervene and help those taking drugs, education is in our schools spelling out the harm they cause, and West Mercia Police has the resources it needs to enforce the law and get the dealers selling misery off our streets.”