Nitrous oxide, a colourless gas also known as laughing gas, nangs, NOS or whippets, is currently regulated under the medicines act if intended for human consumption. While an extremely safe substance as far as recreational drugs go, the problem is that there is currently no legal supply available for recreational use, forcing recreational users to use whipped cream chargers which are sold without harm reduction information or other support for the user.
The women's consumption of 160 canisters a day was excessive in every sense of the word. Assuming she was using the substance for around 12 hours a day, that's a one canister every 4.5 minutes all day long. It is no wonder she lost her business, crashed her car and had trouble with her relationships.
If nitrous oxide had only been legalized and strictly regulated under the psychoactive substances act (PSA) this situation would never have been allowed to occur. The women would been purchasing her nitrous oxide from an educated and licensed supplier, who would have also provided her with B12 supplements, harm reduction information and early addiction support and intervention.
The Ministry of health is currently looking into the supply of recreational nitrous oxide in New Zealand. While the knee jerk reaction of the establishment will likely be calls to prohibit nitrous oxide under the out of date misuse of drugs act (MODA), we suggest that this approach will simply push the supply of nitrous oxide underground into the hands of organized crime creating a situation even worse than the current one. The result will be that those prone to addiction are even less likely to come forward and receive the help and support they need. The solution is to strictly regulate nitrous sales under the PSA where sales can be easily monitored and problematic use identified early preventing problems like this one before they occur.