Amsterdam to ban sale of laughing gas in cafes, at festivals

A laughing gas seller in Amsterdam on Kings Day. Photo:
A laughing gas seller in Amsterdam on Kings Day. Photo:

Amsterdam city councillors have voted in favour of a ban on the sale of laughing gas in the city, stealing a march on central government plans.

The motion was drawn up by the Labour party and ChristenUnie, who say the sale of the gas for recreational use should no longer be tolerated in the capital. GroenLinks, D66 and BIJ1 voted against the proposal.

Measures to restrict the sale of laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, are already in place in around half the Netherlands’ local authority areas, broadcaster NOS said.

National government is working on legislation to restrict the sale of laughing gas, following reports that at least 64 youngsters have ended up in hospital with spinal injuries over the past two years after inhaling it.

Junior health minister Paul Blokhuis said at the end of 2019 he planned to have the gas included in the opium law B list alongside cannabis and qat. Users will not face criminal charges but possession, trade, production and import of B list drugs are illegal.

The chronic use of laughing gas can deplete vitamin B12, which in turn can damage the spinal cord. Patients develop weakness in their legs, arms, trunk, and tingling and numbness that progressively worsens.

Research published earlier this year by the Trimbos institute shows that over 37% of Dutch party goers use laughing gas on a regular basis and that young adults are the most likely to do so.

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