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A ban on the sale and use of, Nitrous Oxide, also known as "laughing gas", in England and Wales is being considered by the government.
The BBC reported that the Home Office has asked for the findings of a report into the harm caused by laughing gas to be delivered sooner than planned, saying, it, in turn, it will consider this review before making a decision.
The Times - which first reported the story - said that under the proposals, exemptions would be allowed for those with "legitimate reasons", such as chefs using it for whipped cream or for pain relief in hospitals.
The paper said Chris Philp, the policing minister, wanted a review already under way into nitrous oxide by the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to be fast-tracked to April, with suggestions a formal announcement on a ban could be made as part of the government's anti-social behaviour strategy due later this year.
The Times reported that punishment for being caught with or selling nitrous oxide is likely to be similar to sanctions for Class C drugs - those in possession face up to two years in prison or an unlimited fine and a maximum 14-year sentence for supplying or producing the substance.