After hearing heartbreaking stories of a mother’s grief over the loss of her daughter and a young man who suffered spinal cord degeneration and was confined to a wheelchair, both due to nitrous oxide abuse, members of the Senate Public Safety Committee unanimously passed Senator Jim Nielsen’s (R-Tehama) measure to prohibit smoke shops and head shops from selling these “whippits.”
“There is no legitimate reason for smoke shops to sell nitrous oxide,” said Senator Jim Nielsen. “Young people buy and inhale this gas to get ‘high’ because they mistakenly believe it is a ‘safe’ substance.”
Mary Anne Rand, mother of Camille Rand who was killed in a fatal car accident by a driver who was believed to be high on nitrous oxide, said, “My daughter’s life was cut short at the age of 26. I hope Senator Nielsen’s bill becomes law to reduce the chance of any other parent suffering the loss of their child.”
Nitrous oxide use is difficult to prove because it does not stay in a user’s bloodstream for long.
Ms. Rand added, “Because deaths and injuries are just ‘believed to be attributable to’ I am afraid the extent of the problem is underreported and not statistically available.”
Specifically, Senate Bill 631, if passed and signed into law, would prohibit smoke and head shops from selling nitrous oxide.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse recreational use of nitrous oxide can lead to “death from lack of oxygen to the brain, altered perception and motor coordination, loss of sensation, limb spasms, blackouts caused by blood pressure changes, and depression of heart muscles functioning.”
“My concern about whippits, and the damage they cause to the central nervous system, led me to reach out to Senator Nielsen and share my story. I view the abuse of this substance as a public health hazard,” said Mr. Patrick O’Brien, father of a 20-year-old whose spinal cord degenerated and was confined to a wheelchair.
Senate Bill 631 passed the Senate Public Safety Committee unanimously. It will now move onto the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development for its consideration.