An Essex drug dealer is among the first to be convicted for supplying laughing gas (Picture: SWNS)
An Essex drug dealer is to become one of the first people in Britain to be charged for unlawful possession of laughing gas following a recent change in the law.
Thomas Salton, 30, was pulled over by police in Basildon on December 1 after his car was flagged as having no insurance.
During a stop and search, officers found more than £38,000 in cash, alongside nitrous oxide canisters and a large amount of ketamine.
Following his arrest, warrants were executed at addresses in Brentwood and Vange, where further amounts of Class A and B drugs were found.
Nitrous oxide is now a class C drug after the law was changed in November 2023 (Picture: SWNS)
At Basildon Crown Court on Monday, Salton, 30, of William Hunter Way, Brentwood, admitted possession with intent to supply controlled Class B and C drugs.
He also pleaded guilty to having a Class A drug and possessing criminal property.
Salton is due to reappear at the same court for sentence on February 19.
The ban on nitrous oxide, nicknamed ‘hippy crack’, came into force in November 2023 as part of the Government’s anti-social behaviour action plan.
Nitrous oxide will now be considered a class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Consequences of possession could include an unlimited fine, community sentences or, for repeat serious offenders, a prison term of up to two years.
Dealers who peddle the drug could face up to 14 years behind bars.
Thomas Salton is thought to be one of the first in the UK to be prosecuted since the change in law (Picture: iStockphoto)
But it is still possible to use the gas for legitimate reasons, such as catering, pain relief during labour or in model rockets.
Essex police said Salton is one of the first to be prosecuted since the change in the law.
Licences are not required to carry nitrous oxide, but users will need to demonstrate they are lawfully in possession of the gas and not intending to wrongfully inhale it.
Superintendent Philip Stinger, of Essex Police, said the change in the law gives officers ‘more options when dealing with the anti-social behaviour so often associated with the use and supply of nitrous oxide as a recreational substance’.
‘This means a proportionate approach to tackling those found in possession of nitrous oxide canisters, including explaining the change in law and encouraging people not to use or buy the substance,” he said.
‘But where we are dealing with a larger number of canisters, it is right we take robust and swift action and put this new legislation to use.
‘The use of nitrous oxide in public spaces is a nuisance to communities and has been shown to pose a considerable health risk.’
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‘Hippy crack’ was made illegal in November 2023.