Ban on nitrous oxide as a drug will come into effect on January 1
The possession and sale of laughing gas will be prohibited from 1 January when the drug will be added to a list of prohibited substances, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport announced. People may continue to use the product in food preparation and as a preservative, as the gas is widely used in whipped cream sprayers.
The use of laughing gas causes "enormous health risks," according to State Secretary Maarten van Ooijen for Public Health. Justice Minister Dilan Yesilgöz also said the ban will help police better enforce issues related to the drug.
"With the ban, the police will be able to take immediate action if someone has non-professional laughing gas in their possession and has balloons with gas bottles in their car. Hopefully we can prevent accidents," Yesilgöz Said.
The Council of State had advised the Cabinet in July to adjust several points in its proposal to ban the substance, saying that it was advisable to regulate the laughing gas ban via a separate law, instead of via the route that the Cabinet has now chosen. Furthermore, the Council wanted the Cabinet to first take a closer look at alternatives to a ban, such as prevention and education. With this decision, the Cabinet is not going along with those recommendations.
Education and prevention are already happening, and will also remain part of the approach, said the Ministry of Health. The government said it is especially important that legislation is introduced to give the police more enforcement ability. For that reason no separate legislation has been created, because that would lead to further years of delay.
Private individuals will no longer be allowed to have large bottles with laughing gas in them. The small cartridges used in whipped cream dispensers will remain allowed. However, the rules regarding this will also be tightened to allow sales but not reselling to another individual. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport said it will make additional agreements about this with parties involved, such as wholesalers.
Laughing gas is also used as an anesthetic in healthcare. This will still be permitted, provided that manufacturers and wholesalers have an exemption for this purpose. The same applies to the electronics and tech sectors.
Laughing gas will be placed on List II of the Opium Act.
Reporting by ANP