Laughing gas will be categorised as a class C drug and made illegal by the end of the year, the UK government has announced.
Possessing nitrous oxide – also known as Hippy crack and NOS – will carry a sentence of up to two years in prison.
Ministers think it’s responsible for yobs terrorising communities through anti-social behaviour.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “The British people are fed up with yobs abusing drugs in public spaces and leaving behind a disgraceful mess for others to clean up.
“Earlier this year the Prime Minister and I promised a zero-tolerance approach to antisocial behaviour and that is what we are delivering.
“If you are caught using ‘laughing gas’ as a drug, you could be hit with a hefty fine or face jail time.”
Laughing gas is one of the most commonly used recreational drugs by 16 to 24-year-olds.
Heavy use can lead to a range of illnesses including nerve-related symptoms.
Supply of nitrous oxide for recreational use is currently banned – but possession is not.
The government’s crime and policing minister Chris Philp said: “There is no question that abusing laughing gas is dangerous to people’s health and it is paramount we take decisive action before the situation gets worse.
“Not only are we making possession an offence for the first time, we are also doubling the maximum sentence for supply to 14 years, so the dealers profiting off this trade have no place to hide.”
More than 50,000 drug tests for cocaine and opiates have been carried out in the past year.
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