A mass inhalation of nitrous oxide is going to happen outside parliament later this month in protest against new UK drugs law.
The new law will ban most "psychoactive drugs" during this parliament, putting an end to the sale of legal highs common at parties and festivals, such as nitrous oxide – also known as laughing gas or, as some newspapers prefer it, "hippy crack".
Stephen Reid, the founder and director of a group called the Psychedelic Society, has arranged the mass nitrous inhalation – which already has hundreds of attendees on Facebook – to force a discussion on the legality of drugs.
"You may not want to take nitrous oxide but it should be up to an individual to decide whether or not to use it," said Reid. "Plus there have been so many artists over the years mentioning psychedelics – it's certainly embedded into our culture."
The protest will involve the participants filling up colourful balloons with laughing gas and simultaneously inhaling them as one outside of the Palace of Westminster.
The participants have chosen nitrous oxide because "it's legal, but it will be illegal if this law is passed", said Reid. "It's also much more short-acting than [legal hallucinogen] 1p LSD ... so that makes it more suitable for a stunt like this. Also the spectacle of it is more interesting – there will be so many balloons."
Reid believes legal highs should remain legal, and that illegal psychedelic drugs like LSD should be become legal.
He said there's a "libertarian argument" for allowing people to decide what to put in their bodies, and that psychedelic drugs are actually beneficial to people.
"The John Hopkins School of Medicine gave about 20 people ... the active ingredient of magic mushrooms and did five sessions over a couple of weeks," explained Reid.
"Following that, 94% of the participants said the experience was one of the top five most meaningful experiences of their lives – up there with the birth of children, marriages, deaths of loved ones and so on."
The Psychedelic Society – which was founded in November of last year – has monthly socials where they members hear performance poetry and discuss psychedelic drugs, although "by and large, people are not tripping at our events", he said.
The nitrous oxide protest is planned for an as-yet-unspecified date later this month, but will only go ahead if the Psychedelic Society can guarantee it will be a sensible event.
"We will only go through with this protest that we're confident will be controlled, choreographed, and productive," he said.
"If there's any risk that we won't be able to control it and it turns into some kind of party in Parliament Square then we will detach ourselves from it – our intent is to make a serious point, we're not looking for a party."
Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.
Contact Jamie Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.