The Netherlands is moving to ban laughing gas next year due to its role in car accidents among the country’s young drivers.
The ban takes effect in January, making it illegal to buy, sell or own nitrous oxide for recreational purposes, according to a press release from the Dutch government. It can still be used for medicinal or culinary purposes.
Laughing gas played a part in 1,800 accidents from 2019 to 2021 in the Netherlands, according to the Dutch youth organization TeamAlert. Of those accidents, 63 resulted in fatalities.
“The recreational use of laughing gas leads to enormous health risks,” Maarten Ooijen, Holland’s state secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport, said in a news release. “In addition, the safety of nonusers is also at stake. We have seen enough reports in the news that terrible accidents have happened due to road users using laughing gas.”
The popular party drug is sold in metal canisters and transferred to a balloon, which is how it’s consumed, according to the BBC.
It’s popular with festivalgoers and the nightlife crowd and is often used in combination with other hard drugs such as ecstasy and ketamine.
Laughing gas can also cause vitamin deficiency and permanent nerve damage if used frequently and regularly.