Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

No Laughing Matter: Woman Inhales Laughing Gas in Front of Police, Gets Arrested

Last week, a California woman was arrested, 'Whip-it' in hand, inhaling laughing gas in front of a police officer. The woman was in her car, in a hospital parking lot, when an officer arrived at the scene due to a report of a woman in a car with a handgun. In addition to charges related to drug use, she may also be charged with carrying a concealed weapon, which was found in her car.

Although nitrous oxide, Whip-its, laughing gas, or similar chemicals and gases may not be illegal to possess, using these and other legal products as inhalants to get high usually will violate the law. Whip-its, for instance, are commonly used by bakers and hobbyists for purposes that do not involve getting high. However, the laughing gas filled cartridges are frequently abused due to their ready availability, which often confuses individuals into thinking that it's actually legal to use Whip-its as a drug.

Laughing Gas is No Laughing Matter

While Whip-its can be readily obtained, sellers need to be aware of their potential liability for selling the frequently abused product. Not too long ago, headlines were made when a pot shop employee sued due to an injury caused by a hash oil manufacturing process that used Whip-its which leaked gas, ignited, and exploded. Similar civil liability, as well as potentially criminal penalties, could follow for a store or seller that sold the product to a customer they had reason to believe would use the product illegally.

Not only can using inhalants like Whip-its lead to criminal charges, particularly if done right in front of the police, there are numerous health risks. Individuals have actually died, suffered severe facial frostbite, nerve damage, and other serious conditions. It should be noted that Whip-its, while chemical similar is different than the laughing gas administered by a medical professional. When a person uses a Whip-it, the gas released is not regulated or mixed with oxygen properly and therefore carries a higher risk of injury.

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