Mayors still favor a laughing gas ban despite negative political advice
Mayors do not agree with that the Council of State's advice, which contends that the Cabinet's plan to add nitrous oxide to the Opium List is insufficient for reducing sales and recreational use of the drug. The Council of State also pointed out potential issues in enforcing a ban of the substance, according to the NOS.
The Cabinet wants to add the substance, also known as laughing gas, to the list of controlled substances under the Opium Act. The Council of State, in contrast, suggests that making more information to the public as part of several measures to prevent recreational use will have a better impact without inconveniencing those who commercially use the substance. Mayors say these options have existed for a long time already.
"I am not happy," Utrecht mayor Sharon Dijksma told NOS. "It ignores the problems I experience every day in my city: insecurity, nuisance and the vulnerable position of young people who use the drug."
However, a complete ban on nitrous oxide could be difficult to enforce, advised the Council of State. There are currently exceptions for people who need to use nitrous oxide for food or technical reasons, and it could be hard to weed out those who are selling it for recreational purposes.
The Tweede Kamer is now on board with the Cabinet's plan to include the drug under the Opium Act, but the advice from the Council of State could postpone the process. Although municipalities can impose local bans, this can only be done in districts where it causes a nuisance –– meaning the recreational use of the drug inevitably shifts to districts where it is not banned.
"To me, this feels like the system world of rules and processes that clashes with everyday practice," said Ap Reinders, the mayor of the municipality Stichtse Vecht in Utrecht.