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Nitrous Oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a colorless gas that is non-flammable with a slight odor and taste that has been described as sweet. It is primarily used by dentists for surgical procedures and in racecar driving it is added to carburetors to make the cars go faster. It can also be used in rocket fuel, preserving food and to make instant whip cream. However, when it is inhaled, it makes individuals feel happy and relaxed and impairs one’s judgement. When an individual inhales a lot, it can cause hallucinations, euphoria, unconsciousness and death (resulting from asphyxiation).
If you own a legitimate business, it is not illegal to sell or possess Nitrous Oxide in California. It is, however, illegal to possess or sell Nitrous Oxide to get high. It is sold by a drug dealer in a small balloon that is often called a “whippet.” Itused to be a popular “rave” drug and the police most often did not arrest those individuals that possessed or used the drug. More recently, state and federal governments have begun to crack down on the illegal use of Nitrous Oxide.
It is illegal under both California and Federal law to use Nitrous Oxide to get high or as a recreational drug. The laws governing Nitrous Oxide differ from the laws covering other drugs like heroin, marijuana or cocaine.
It is a misdemeanor with a punishment of up to six months in jail to have Nitrous Oxide with the intent to get high or to be under the influence of Nitrous Oxide unless it was given to you for medical reasons by a licensed health care professional like a dentist. Giving or selling Nitrous Oxide to someone less than 18 years of age is illegal unless it is given by a health care professional or is in some type of food like whipped cream. If convicted twice, a business can lose its state license for selling Nitrous Oxide to someone under 18.
Many of the federal drug laws are mainly concerned with hard core drugs like heroin, painkillers, cocaine and prescription tranquilizers. These drugs are considered “controlled substances” and federal law controls their possession and sale under the Drug Enforcement Administration or the DEA. Nitrous Oxide is not considered one of those drugs as it is legal to possess Nitrous Oxide just not as a controlled substance. It can be possessed for legitimate purposes including food products so the Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA, is in control of regulating Nitrous Oxide. Under the Food and Drug Administration’s regulations, selling or distributing Nitrous Oxide for the purpose of human consumption without a legitimate medical prescription has a penalty of a fine of up to $100,000 and up to one year in a federal prison.
Nitrous Oxide can also be a part of other crimes like it is illegal to drive under the influence of Nitrous Oxide. It is also sometimes used by individuals to commit sexual assault by impairing the victim’s judgement as a form of rape.
If you have been charged with possession or selling Nitrous Oxide with the intent to get high, contact our experienced attorneys to help you through the court process. Our attorneys will review the charges and develop a defense to get you the best possible outcome for your case.