Laughing gas protest deflates as just a handful bother to show up

Only 100 people went

A much hyped laughing gas protest proved to be just hot air after hardly anyone turned up. 

The laughable demo – organised by the Psychedelic Society – invited thousands to protest against the criminalisation of nitrous oxide.

But only around 100 people went to Parliament square in London – and most of the crowd were reporters or photographers. The event on Facebook had over 1,500 attending.

The organisers said: “Gather at 2pm and start filling your balloons for the mass inhalation at 3pm on the dot.

“We should be free to buy, sell and use whatever substances we want, so long as we do so responsibly and without harming others. These are our bodies, our minds, and it should be up to us what we do with them.”

Figures suggest laughing gas – commonly used by bakers and dentists – is the fourth most popular drug in the UK.

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Credit: Urban Pictures UK

Protester Sayyid Ali told the Guardian he uses weed and NOS to help him meditate.

He said: “When I use them together to meditate it’s a really profound, spiritual experience,” the 36-year-old said. “It’s not the same if you are doing it at a rave or mix it with alcohol, but if you treat it with respect I believe in what I’ve learned from it.

“I’ve changed as a person through doing it.”

Stephen Reid, founder and director of the Psychedelic Society and organiser of the demo, said: “Nitrous oxide is absolutely one of the least risky substances that people can take.

“Prohibition is not going to make anyone safer. That’s a key part of this. By prohibiting substances all you do is drive them underground and make it harder for people to access proper education about them.

“I’m not expecting Theresa May to come down, shake my hand and say: ‘I got it all wrong let’s rethink’.

“This is about starting a conversation about the illiberal and irrational nature of drug laws in this country.”

Credit: Urban Pictures UK

Credit: Urban Pictures UK

Drugs tsar and former adviser to the government Professor David Nutt defended the drug, saying great writers like Coleridge had used the drug.

He said: “It’s been used for over 200 years, largely as an analgesic, a pain killer. It’s been used by writers like Coleridge and philosophers like James to get insights into the brain and now it’s being used by young people as an alternative to alcohol on the grounds that it’s a lot safer than alcohol and a lot shorter acting.

“So this desire to ban it is rather bizarre really.”

The poor turnout comes after Lambeth Council in London became the first to impose laws against the sale of balloons. Anyone caught with be fined £1,000.

And parliament is set to push through a bill meaning anyone caught dealing could get up to seven years in prison.