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Michigan NewsGovernor Whitmer signs bills targeting nitrous oxide abuse in Michigan

Governor Whitmer signs bills targeting nitrous oxide abuse in Michigan

Michigan – The state of Michigan has taken a decisive action by banning the sale of “whippets” also known as “whip-its,” devices used to inhale substance from containers. Michigan leaders are convinced these bills will help the state in stopping people from abusing nitrous gas, a trend that has become increasingly popular in recent years. On Tuesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Senate Bills 57 and 58 into law. These bills will make it harder for people of all ages to use nitrous oxide for fun.

Nitrous oxide is a gas that has been allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for medical use. It is known for easing pain and is sometimes called “happy gas” or “laughing gas.” However, its misuse for recreational purposes to achieve a short-lasting high has seen a concerning uptick. The law goes after “crackers,” tools used to puncture nitrous oxide canisters. It is now illegal to sell or give these away for the sole purpose of inhaling.

Senator Stephanie Chang, a key proponent of the bills, expressed concern over the easy availability of nitrous oxide canisters and the paraphernalia required for their abuse.

“The abuse of nitrous oxide ‘whip-its’ continues to be a problem in Detroit and around the state, leading to serious health impacts, in part because of how widely accessible the canisters and crackers are,” Chang said in a statement. “With the governor’s signature today, we have taken another important step to prevent nitrous oxide abuse and keep whip-it paraphernalia off shelves and out of people’s hands.”

Misusing nitrous oxide can have negative effects. For example, a 2022 article in the Journal of Psychopharmacology has noted a rise in recreational use, correlating with adverse health outcomes such as vitamin B12 inactivation and deficiency. This deficiency can cause serious neurological problems, highlighting the urgency behind the legislative action.

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Those who will break the law will face severe penalties. If you sell or give away nitrous gas inhalation devices, you could go to jail for up to 90 days or pay a fine of up to $5,000, or both. It’s even worse when these devices are sold to children; those selling these devices to children risk going to jail for up to a year and be fined up to $7,500.

Another supporter of the bill, Senator Joseph Bellino, pointed out the dangerous trend of using charging canisters only to get high.

“These new laws will address the problem by targeting those who are selling these canisters without selling whipping cream or dispensers for a legitimate use,” he said, emphasizing the aim to cut off easy access to youth.

The move in the legislature has a lot of support; it passed the Senate 37–1 and the House 87–18. It will go into action in mid-June, 90 days after it was signed into law. It will add to state laws that already make it illegal to sell nitrous oxide canisters for recreational purposes or to people under 18.

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Community efforts, like those by the Whippet WipeOut Coalition, have also helped the initiative. For example, the Coalition has held cleanup events to get rid of used canisters in local areas, showing that everyone is working together to solve the problem.