The beginning of the end of laughing gas consumption

An empty balloon on a street in Groningen, Photograph: Robert Lee Smid

A local amendment, backed by a majority in the city council, has decided that laughing gas will soon be abolished in Groningen, making it likely that the laughing gas trend will fade away.

The use of nitrous oxide, in more familiar words laughing gas, has become popular amongst Groningen nightlife. A substance that was used by dentists to sedate patients in the past, turned into a commercial good in The Netherlands around 2016. Around the country people started to use to gas both at home and in bars. The hospitality sector was quick to adapt to this new trend by selling it.  

The use of laughing gas is not without its dangers. It can cause a lack of Vitamin B12, which causes some senses in the body to malfunction. These little malfunctions can cause damage to bone marrow that can lead to paralysis of some parts of the body (limbs, facial movements etc.). It would give the user a short lived high.

‘’Once the amendment is approved, I can select an area of the city that will not be able to sell laughing gas anymore,’’ says mayor of Groningen Koen Schuiling. He believes that the local government has a responsibility to promote the public health.

According to Schuiling the local government also monitors and intervenes with XTC usage and laughing gas should also fall within this category. “It is a shame that it was discovered’’. He believes the active selling of this drug should not be allowed.

“If they stop it, they should stop it everywhere. Not like last time when they stopped it only during big events,” says Farid Meddour of Sunny Beach, a bar selling laughing gas in Groningen. He believes a clear decision should be made. Some festivals in Groningen that saw a high number of sales in laughing gas were not allowed to sell laughing gas anymore. Farid’s fear is that one bar will be able to sell it, and the other will not. He believes that selling it in night shops and the city wardrobe takes away the social element of going out.

Guylian a former user of laughing gas disagrees and would still prefer to see it in bars or at least in nightshops or the city wardrobe. Guylian thinks it is wrong that it is being abolished, “I understand that it is harmful but so are many other things in life. People should be able to choose for themselves the harm they want to inflict upon their own bodies.”

Whether this trend will stop when laughing gas becomes illegal is yet to be seen.

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