Anna Firth, MP for Southend West, today spoke in the Commons to welcome the incorporation of nitrous oxide into the list of class C drugs. Following an extensive campaign on the issue, which saw Firth meet with Home Secretary Suella Braverman, Firth was delighted at the announcement of the amendation today. The amendation to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 will see Nitrous Oxide, which has seen 56 registered deaths associated with its use between 2021 and 2022. Under the new legislation possession of nitrous oxide, commonly known as ‘laughing gas’ or ‘Nos’, will carry a sentence of up to two years in prison or an unlimited fine, with up to fourteen years for supply and production. Given its legitimate uses in catering and healthcare, the Government is also running a consultation which will be used by the Government to understand the full range and scale of legitimate uses of nitrous oxide to enable the design of a legal framework that permits it use for legitimate purposes once it becomes a Class C controlled drug. Firth has raised the issue five times in the Chamber, and at a meeting with the Home Secretary in September last year, as well as working closely with local police on initiatives which seek to tackle its use, such as Operation Community and Operation Union.
Anna Firth MP said: "I am delighted at the new legislation. Southend has seen incredibly damaging use of nitrous oxide, and its incorporation into the list of Class C drugs will make a huge difference in limiting the horrible effects of its illegal usage. These effects are not just limited to the huge amount of litter that discarded canisters create, which damage our local environment and cover our beaches, but overuse has been linked to anemia, B12 deficiency and even paralysis. Additionally, Southend Police reported last year that they had to cut people out of their cars due to unconsciousness caused by usage, and so I welcome it for all of the above reasons."