Ex-government drug advisor on laughing gas ban: ‘They just hate young people enjoying themselves’

Professor David Nutt speaks to NME about the Home Office's decision to clampdown on legal highs

Ex-Government chief drug advisor Professor David Nutt has spoken out against the government’s ban on laughing gas, popular at music festivals, saying that they “concocted and continue to perpetuate this lie” about deaths caused by legal highs.

Speaking to NME in this week’s issue, available digitally and on newsstands now, Nutt attacked the Home Office’s decision to make nitrous oxide, the second most used recreational drug in the UK, illegal. The bill implementing the ban will be published on Friday (May 5) by Home Secretary Theresa May.

Nutt, campaigning for drug policy to be based on scientific evidence and not fuelled and exacerbated by political motives since being sacked in 2009, said: “they’ve concocted and continue to perpetuate this lie”. He added: In fact, my view is that there are almost no deaths from legal highs at all… Head shops don’t sell illegal drugs. They’re the good guys. They’re selling drugs which are known to be relatively safe. Attacking head shops is like attacking sex shops because you think they lower the tone of your town.”

Nutt continued: “Some of the greatest minds in the history of Britain, the people that made British science, used nitrous oxide. Wordsworth and the Romantic poets used nitrous oxide. The guy who popularised the use of nitrous oxide, Humphry Davy, was friends with Wordsworth and Coleridge. Nitrous oxide has been around as a medicine and a way of people understanding a different way of feeling for 200 years. Banning it now is pathetic. They’ll be putting yellow stars on drug takers’ foreheads soon. It is a peculiar attack on being anything other than a member of the Bullingdon Club – but they did drugs, didn’t they? I think this is just about young people enjoying themselves, and they hate that because they’re miserable sods.”

Read the full interview with Professor Nutt here.

It has been reported that more than 400,000 16 to 24-year-olds reporting taking nitrous oxide, referred to as “hippy crack” by the tabloid media, in the past 12 months. The drug has proven popular at music festivals to the extent that Glastonbury were recently forced to release a statement saying its use is “not welcome” in the stone circle area at this year’s festival.