Nitrous oxide gas produces euphoriant effects when inhaled. First recorded in the 18th century at upper-class "laughing gas parties", the experience was largely constrained to medical students until the late 20th century when laws limiting access to the gas were loosened to supply dentists and hospitals.
By the s, nitrous oxide had become a moderately popular recreational drug in some countries. Possession of nitrous oxide is legal in many countries, although some have criminalised supplying it for recreational purposes.
Nitrous oxide is a dissociative inhalant that can cause analgesiadepersonalisationderealisation and euphoria. Research has also found that it increases suggestibility and imaginationparticularly sexual fantasies. Inhalation of nitrous oxide for recreational use, with the purpose of causing euphoria or slight hallucinations, began as a phenomenon for the British upper class inknown as "laughing gas parties".
During the 19th century, William James and many contemporaries found that inhalation of nitrous oxide resulted in a powerful spiritual and mystical experience for the user. James claimed to experience the fusing of dichotomies into unity and a revelation of ultimate truth during the inhalation of nitrous oxide. The memory of this experience, however, quickly faded and any attempt to communicate was difficult at best.
James described a man who, when under the influence of the gas, claimed to know the secret of the universe.
Laughing gas cannisters are 'easily available in corner shops, online or over the phone'
Until at leastlow availability of equipment to produce the gas, combined with low usage of the gas for medical purposes, meant it was a relatively rare phenomenon that mainly happened among students at medical universities. When equipment became more widely available for dentistry and hospitals, most countries also restricted the legal access to buy pure nitrous oxide gas cylinders to those sectors. Even so, its use in parties continued, with gas provided by medical professionals or restaurant workers,   and by other legal or illegal sources.
A report from Consumers Union report from based upon reports of its use in MarylandVancouverand a survey made by Edward J. Lynn of its non-medical use in Michigan found that use of the gas for recreational purposes was then prevalent in the US and Canada.
It was not uncommon [in the interviews] to hear from individuals who had been to parties where a professional doctor, nurse, scientist, inhalation therapist, researcher had provided nitrous oxide.
Investigation into sales of laughing gas which could breach medicines act
There also were those who work in restaurants who used the N 2 O stored in tanks for the preparation of whip cream. Reports were received from people who used the gas contained in aerosol cans both of food and non-food products. At a recent rock festival, nitrous oxide was widely sold for 25 cents a balloon. Contact was made with a "mystical-religious" group that used the gas to accelerate arriving at their transcendental-meditative state of choice.
Although a few, more sophisticated users employed nitrous oxide-oxygen mixes with elaborate equipment, most users used balloons or plastic bags. They either held a breath of N 2 O or rebreathed the gas. There were no adverse effects reported in the more than one hundred individuals surveyed.
As of [update]the drug enjoys moderate popularity in some countries. In the United Kingdom, as of [update]nitrous oxide is estimated to be used by almost half a million young people at nightspots, festivals and parties. Officials in Norfolk, Hertfordshire and Thames Valley had reported increasing s of discarded whipped-cream chargers being found.
Recreational users generally use 8 gram containers of nitrous oxide "whippets", which they use to fill balloons or whipped cream dispensers. The gas is then inhaled from the balloon or dispenser. In Australia and New Zealand, nitrous oxide bulbs are known as "nangs", possibly derived from the sound distortion perceived by consumers. Since nitrous oxide can cause dizziness, dissociationand temporary loss of motor controlit is unsafe to inhale while standing up. So part of safer use can be to inhale it while seated, because there is a decreased risk of injury from falling.
Inhalation directly from a tank poses serious health risks, as it can cause Laughing gas for sale since the gas is very cold when released. For those reasons, most recreational users will discharge the gas into a balloon or whipped cream dispenser before inhaling. Nitrous oxide can be habit-forming, mainly because of its short-lived effect generally from 1—5 minutes in recreational doses and ease of access.
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Death can result if it is inhaled in such a way that not enough oxygen Laughing gas for sale breathed in. While the pure gas is not toxic, long-term use has been associated with vitamin B12 deficiency and its symptoms: anemia due to reduced hemopoiesisneuropathytinnitusand numbness in extremities. Pregnant women should not use nitrous oxide recreationally, because chronic use is also teratogenic and foetotoxic.
Inhaling industrial-grade nitrous oxide is also dangerous, as it contains many impurities and is not intended for use on humans. Food grade nitrous oxide is also not meant to be inhaled; the bulbs commonly have industrial lubricants from their manufacturing process on and in them. When the bulb is punctured, these solvents can aerosolize, introducing unknown particles into the gas. These lubricants commonly leave an oily residue on the bulb "cracker" or inside the whipped cream dispenser. From toonly 30 death certificates in England and Wales mentioned nitrous oxide.
Of those, 6 were in the year period from throughand 24 were in the 7-year period from through Inan Ohio University freshman died of asphyxiation as a result of nitrous oxide ingestion from whipped-cream chargersallegedly as part of a hazing ritual. Ina fifteen-year-old Irish boy died after ingesting nitrous oxide,  leading to Ireland's Health Service Executive classing it as a dangerous drug.
Under United States federal law, possession of nitrous oxide is legal and is not subject to DEA purview. Prosecution is possible under its "misbranding" clauses, prohibiting the sale or distribution of nitrous oxide for the purpose of human consumption the recreational drug use market. Given the necessity of proving the intent of either buyer or seller in this case, though, such prosecutions are rare. Many states have laws regulating the possession, sale, and distribution of nitrous oxide; but these are normally limited to either banning distribution to minors, or to setting an upper limit for the amount of nitrous oxide that may be sold without a specialrather than banning possession or distribution completely.
In most jurisdictions, like at the federal level, sale or distribution for the purpose of human consumption is illegal. Code, Sec. In many other countries, this substance is legal.
Small N 2 O cartridges, used to make whipped creamcan be legally purchased by anyone. In all US jurisdictions, however, distribution, possession, and inhalation are legal when done under the supervision and direction of d medical professional such as a physician or dentist. Nitrous oxide canisters made for the purpose of prolonging the shelf life of whipped cream and other products are completely legal and readily available. Anyone can buy these without a permit.
Supply of nitrous oxide for recreational purposes is illegal under the Psychoactive Substances Act Slang terms used for the canisters in the United Kingdom include balloonsnoswhippitslaughing gashippie crackchargers and noz. Supply of nitrous oxide for recreational purposes is illegal; however, it is permissible to supply it for cooking and baking purposes.
As a deleterious substance, the supply of the substance for the purposes of inhalation can result in a two-year period of imprisonment. The canisters are commonly referred to in Australia as nangs. Usage of nitrous oxide is currently still legal, although the governing coalition is attempting to add the gas to the list of drugs prohibited by the Opium Law.
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Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Food grade N 2 O whippets above and cracker below —can be used for recreational purposes. This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. February Miller, N. New York: Marcel Dekker.
ISBN X. Journal of Sex Research. PMID S2CID The Journal of Sex Research. ISSN JSTOR Retrieved 6 July Researches, chemical and philosophical : chiefly concerning nitrous oxide, or diphlogisticated nitrous air, and its respiration. London : printed for J. Johnson, St.