No Laughing Matter: Nitrous Oxide Headed for Drugs List

Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service plans to include nitrous oxide (laughing gas) on the drugs list by the end of the year, placing strict controls on who can buy and sell the substance, Deputy Director of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service Nikolai Tsvetkov said on Thursday.

“We realize the concerns associated with nitrous oxide,” Tsvetkov said.

“We sent a letter to the Russian government and got the necessary order. We have taken all the necessary procedures prescribed in the law to include this substance on the list of prohibited drugs,” he said.

Currently, unauthorized sellers of nitrous oxide can only be fined for “unconscionable trade practices.”

The head of the State Anti-drug Committee said laughing gas will “of course” be included on the list of narcotics by the end of the year.

Nitrous oxide was first deemed “laughing gas” in 1799 by English chemist Humphry Davy, who found that exposure could initially cause a person to feel excitement accompanied by laughter and erratic body movements, but continued exposure would cause loss of consciousness.

Inhalation of pure gas causes rapid development of narcosis and asphyxia, but when mixed with oxygen at the correct dosage, can be used as an anesthestic without side effects.

Even at low concentrations, laughing gas disrupts cognitive activities and impairs muscle movement, vision and hearing and can produce irreversible effects on the brain and nervous system.



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