The Loop drug-checking service has been granted charity status by the Charity Commission, the organisation has announced. Earlier this year its new, regular drug-checking service in Bristol became the first of its kind to be licensed by the Home Office (DDN, June, page 4).
The commission undertook a comprehensive legal review of the organisation’s activities and ‘determined drug checking as a legal and charitable activity in the UK’, the Loop states. This will help the organisation to further develop its services and reach more people and communities, it says, as well as improving opportunities to secure further funding.
The Loop has also appointed a new CEO, Kay Porter, and full-time administrator Ursh Skeet. ‘It’s an amazing time to join The Loop; all the continued energy and commitment of so many over the past ten years has enabled us to get to this next stage in our development,’ said Porter. ‘The recognition and registration as a charity will mean that our health services and the important information we generate through drug checking will now reach more people in more places across the UK, and greatly assist in reducing drug-related harm.’
Meanwhile, a new report on the recreational use of nitrous oxide has been published by EMCDDA. A ‘profitable and expanding supply chain has developed’, it says, with specialised internet stores directly promoting the gas for recreational use or offering it under ‘the guise of its use to make whipped cream’ – noting that suppliers are now selling larger, 15kg cylinders of the substance aimed at the recreational market, rather than the previously more common small 8g cartridges.
Although poisonings associated with nitrous oxide are still relatively rare, they are on the increase and are associated with heavier use. Cases in Denmark rose from 16 in 2015 to 73 in 2021, while 134 cases were reported in France in 2020 — up from just ten in 2017.
‘The rise in the recreational use of nitrous oxide in some parts of Europe is a cause for concern,’ said EMCDDA Director Alexis Goosdeel. ‘There is a general perception among users that inhalation of nitrous oxide is safe. Yet we see that more frequent or heavier use of the gas increases the risk of serious harms, such as nervous system damage. It is therefore important to avoid normalising and unintentionally promoting its use. Targeted interventions and further research are needed to increase understanding of the risks and reduce harms.’