Nitrous oxide is set to be banned under government plans to clamp down on anti-social behaviour.
Levelling up secretary Michael Gove made the announcement this morning on the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme.
“Antisocial behaviour can ruin lives,” he said.
Confirming the ban on laughing gas, Mr Gove said: “I think anyone who has the opportunity to walk through our parks in our major cities will have seen these little silver canisters, which are examples of people not only spoiling public spaces but taking a drug which can have a psychological and neurological effect and one that contributes to antisocial behaviour overall.”
He did not know which class (whether A, B or C) the drug would fall under.
“We can’t have a situation, we mustn’t have a situation where our drugs, our public spaces become drug taking arenas and that is why we need to do crackdown on new manifestations of drug taking.
“These laughing gas canisters are an increasing scourge, and one that has been reported to me as a constituency MP.”
‘Hypocrisy’ given Gove’s history of cocaine
Mr Gove has admitted publicly he has taken cocaine “on several occasions” in the past.
Sophy Ridge asked: “Are you really going to give people a criminal record for a 30-second high from laughing gas?”
Mr Gove initially avoided the question and replied: “We need to deal with the scourge [of nitrous oxide].”
“It’s absolutely right we uphold the law in this case,” he added.
When asked again if the plans were hypocritical, given some MPs have been known to take drugs, including himself, he said: “No… because I’ve learned.”
He continued: “I’ve learned it’s a mistake, it’s worse than a mistake to regard drug taking as somehow acceptable.”
Cleaning up anti-social behaviour
The move is part of a pack of measures designed to curb anti-social behaviour, which is set to be a key issue in the run-up to the next general election.
People convicted of anti-social behaviour will be ordered to repair the damage they have caused within two days of being told their punishment, under new plans.
Where possible, low-level offenders will be cleaning up the mess they created but if this is not possible – if it has already been cleaned up, for example – they will be given other ways to help their community.
This could include picking up litter, washing police cars or volunteering in shops.