Amsterdam lawmakers vote to restrict the sale of laughing gas


A majority of Amsterdam city council politicians have expressed support for the ban on the sale of laughing gas by restaurant and hotel companies, as well as at events. The measure did not gain the support of GroenLinks board members D66 and BIJ1, who voted against the proposal, the ANP reported on Wednesday.

The ban was initiated by Sofyan Mbarki of the PvdA and ChristenUnie politician Gerjan van den Heuvel. They argued that there was growing evidence that substance abuse had serious adverse health consequences for its young users.

Laughing gas, a common name for nitrous oxide, causes a variety of health problems, such as nausea, headache, dizziness, chest pain, blurred vision, confusion, and anxiety. Some have reported a tingling or numb sensation in the arms and legs. In more severe cases, the drug has been linked to heart attacks and spinal cord problems. Additionally, it can lead to reduced pain sensitivity, which can lead to more serious injuries.

“Nitrous oxide is ruining the lives of far too many young people. As a municipality, therefore, we have to set a standard. Nitrous oxide is like poison and the poison must not be sold in Amsterdam,” said Sofyan Mbaraki.

There has also been a sharp increase in the number of drug-related traffic incidents. That number rose to 130 in 2017, then it almost tripled the following year and rose again to 1,390 in 2019.

Nitrous oxide slows down the body’s reaction time when inhaling, resulting in feelings of calm or euphoria, often accompanied by uncontrollable laughter.

In 2019, Cabinet said it wanted to ban the recreational use of laughing gas. It was recently announced that a nationwide ban would likely take at least a year longer, as it required a lot of extra work. Earlier in April, a motion to ban laughing gas was filed in Eindhoven.

The sale of the drug was severely limited in Rotterdam in 2019.

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