Rotterdam bans laughing gas sales at events, around the beach

Laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, canisters on the street
Canisters of nitrous oxide litter the street in Utrecht. Aug. 13, 2017Sebastiaan ter BurgWikimedia CommonsCC-BY

Laughing gas may no longer be sold at events in Rotterdam or on and around the Nesselande beach in the city. Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb amended a police regulation to make this ban possible. It takes effect immediately, NOS reports. 

Laughing gas is a popular party drug in the Netherlands. The gas is pumped into a balloon, from which users breathe it in, causing a brief intoxication. At the end of last month the Rotterdam mayor already announced that he wanted to curb the sale of laughing gas at events because it causes a lot of trouble. By banning it now, the police can take action against the sellers.

Aboutaleb hopes that the government will eventually put laughing gas on the list of medicines, so that it can no longer be sold freely. 

Burn centers in the Netherlands previously raised concerns about the use of laughing gas causing serious injuries. The intoxication caused by laughing gas increases the pain threshold, which prevents users from noticing that the ice cold tank is burning their legs or hands. "A day later they only find out that they have suffered serious burns", Ymke Lucas, burn doctor at the Maasstad Hospital in Rotterdam, said to NOS in April.

Minster Ferdinand Grappehaus of Justice and Security announced that he is considering a national ban on the recreational use of laughing gas. "Young people do not realize how life-threatening, how deadly the cocktail of alcohol and laughing gas or other drugs is", he said, according to the broadcaster.