MPs agree to speed up national ban on laughing gas

already banned, RTL Nieuws

Photo: Hanneke Sanou

A large majority of MPs have approved a motion to speed up a national ban on the sale of laughing gas late on Thursday despite the caretaker government’s decision to postpone the decision.

Junior health minister Paul Blokhuis had planned to include the gas in the opium law B list alongside cannabis and qat in 2022 which would mean a de facto ban. Users would not face criminal charges but possession, trade, production and imports would be illegal.

That process will now be speeded up so the draft legislation, which is already in place, can be voted on by MPs as soon as the Council of State delivers its advice. That, MPs expect, may be a matter of months.

Some local councils have already banned the sale of laughing gas in cafes and festivals but MPs said a national ban is urgently needed.

‘Every weekend doctors are seeing scores of children who have used laughing gas. That makes clear how harmful this junk is,’ RTL Nieuws quoted ChristenUnie MP Mirjam Bikker as saying.

The chronic use of laughing gas can deplete vitamin B12, which in turn can damage the spinal cord. Patients develop weakness in their legs, arms, trunk, and tingling and numbness that progressively worsens.

Research published earlier this year by the Trimbos institute shows that over 37% of Dutch party goers use laughing gas on a regular basis and that young adults are the most likely to do so.

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