Friday 02 December 2022

Council of State opposes plan to ban sale of laughing gas

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

The Council of State, which examines and makes recommendations about all new draft legislation, says the government should not introduce a ban on the sale of laughing gas (nitrous oxide) as planned.

The measure would be too far reaching because the gas has many legal uses, including pain relief, the council said on Monday. A ban would also be difficult to police.

The government plans to include laughing gas on its official list of soft drugs, alongside marijuana. That would make the possession, trade and production of the drug a crime, although users would not be prosecuted.

Instead, the Council of State recommends the government look into less far-reaching measures to deal with the health risks attached to prolonged laughing gas use. This could include better monitoring and information provision.

Ministers announced they planned to include laughing gas in the opium law at the end of 2019 in an effort to stop the recreational use of the drug.

According to Trimbos Institute research, one in 50 adults used laughing gas in 2020, as did one in 13 college students. And police figures show laughing gas had a role in 1,800 traffic accidents in the past three years, including 63 that were fatal.

In the meantime, a large number of the Netherlands’ local authorities, including Amsterdam, have introduced bylaws banning the use of the gas in public.

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