The Government has updated the law to make possession of nitrous oxide illegal, if it is, or is likely to be, wrongfully inhaled. They have defined ‘wrongful inhalation’ as inhalation for anything other than for medical or dental purposes. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) Order 2023 classifies nitrous oxide as a Class C drug, Schedule 5 (2001 Regulations), on the basis that it would offer the most suitable controls while enabling continued lawful access to the substance for legitimate purposes, including medical use. As it currently stands, there is no change to existing processes and licences for those using nitrous oxide for legitimate medical use.

SAAD responded to the consultation process on behalf of its members and was recognised as follows. ‘Of the email respondents, an organisation representing dentists supported Proposal 1 on the proviso that there were exemptions for healthcare, including dentistry’.

November 2023