Village officials in Manhattan are addressing a concerning issue related to the recreational use of nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas. The substance is being sold in local vaping shops and liquor stores, and individuals are purchasing it with the intention of inhaling it to induce euphoria or a high. Nitrous oxide is typically used for medical/dental anesthesia or in food service to dispense whipped cream.
The village officials, including Mayor Mike Adrieansen, Trustee Ronald Adamski, and Manhattan Police Chief Jeff Wold, are taking action by passing an ordinance to stop the sale of nitrous oxide for recreational use. They are concerned about the potential health hazards associated with inhaling nitrous oxide, which can lead to side effects such as dizziness, dissociation, disorientation, loss of balance, impaired memory, and muscle weakness. Fatalities can occur due to asphyxiation.
Using it recreationally, is inconsistent with state law and can have long-term effects and habitual use can lead to severe neurological damage or in some cases death due to suffocation. Since this is not a controlled substance, statistics on the harmful effects of or loss of life due to the use of nitrous oxide are mostly non-existent according to officials in the Will County Department of Public Health.
“As a parent of two children, I was not aware this dangerous substance was being sold in our community,” stated Mayor Mike Adrieansen. “By passing this ordinance we hope to make the general public aware of the issue and the hazards of nitrous oxide abuse.”
The situation came to light when Chief Wold received complaints from parents about their kids purchasing nitrous oxide products at local vape shops. The Chief investigated the matter, discovered the sale of nitrous oxide in small containers or cartridges, and brought the issue to the attention of the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office for review.
Trustee Ron Adamski has worked with Chief Wold, Mayor Adrieansen and village attorneys to draft the proposed ordinance. “After my discussion with Chief Wold, I felt a need to put forth a local ordinance to stop these establishments from selling this substance in Manhattan,” Adamski explained. “They are not selling whip crème in these places so there is no reason to sell nitrous oxide to customers. It’s essential for communities to address emerging substance abuse issues and take preventive measures to protect public health and safety.”
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Chief Wold and village officials are reportedly not aware of any other community that has an ordinance specifically targeting the recreational use of nitrous oxide. To address the issue at the state level, Chief Wold reached out to State Representative Anthony DeLuca of the 80th District, which includes Manhattan.
Representative DeLuca is actively working on legislation to amend the criminal code of 2012. The proposed amendment would prohibit the retail sales of Nitrous Oxide in Illinois. Furthermore, violation of this law would be classified as a Class 3 felony.