Amsterdam bans the sale of laughing gas in cafes and festivals

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A laughing gas seller in Amsterdam on King’s Day. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Amsterdam city councilors voted in favor of a ban on the sale of laughing gas in the city, stealing a march on central government plans.

The motion was drafted by Labor and ChristenUnie, who say the sale of recreational gas 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 of the Dutch local authorities, broadcaster NOS said.

The national government is working on legislation to restrict the sale of laughing gas, following reports that at least 64 young people have ended up in hospital with spinal injuries in the past two years after l ‘have inhaled.

Junior Health Minister Paul Blokhuis said at the end of 2019 that he planned to include gas in List B of the opium law alongside cannabis and qat. Users will not face criminal charges, but the possession, trade, production, and importation of List B drugs is illegal.

Chronic laughing gas use can deplete vitamin B12, which in turn can damage the spinal cord. Patients develop weakness in the legs, arms, trunk, and tingling and numbness that gradually worsens.

A study published earlier this year by the Trimbos Institute shows that over 37% of Dutch partygoers regularly consume laughing gas and that young adults are the most likely to do so.

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