Party drug: Lauterbach wants stricter rules for laughing gas

Party drug
Lauterbach wants to quickly introduce stricter rules for nitrous oxide

Intoxication with consequences: laughing gas cartridges and balloons in a park. Photo

© Teresa Dapp/dpa

Accidents or even neurological damage, permanent damage cannot be ruled out: warnings about nitrous oxide consumption are piling up. The minister now wants to take action.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach wants to quickly introduce stricter rules to prevent the sale of nitrous oxide as Party drugs, especially among young people. “We will come up with a regulation quickly,” said the SPD politician on Friday in the ARD “Morgenmagazin.” As one possibility, he mentioned the proposal from Lower Saxony to add laughing gas to the list of psychoactive substances, with very strict rules for its sale. “We are now tackling this very quickly,” assured the minister.

Until a regulation is passed, Lauterbach recommended that parents educate their children. “It sounds funny and harmless. But it isn’t,” warned the SPD politician. Regular consumption could lead to accidents or even neurological damage. Permanent damage cannot be ruled out either. “It is very dangerous for children and young people,” said Lauterbach. The minister does not believe a ban is possible because laughing gas is also used industrially.

Doctor: “The problem is that it is underestimated”

Cologne doctor Volker Limmroth called for strict restrictions on the availability of laughing gas. “The problem is that it is underestimated,” said Limmroth, chief physician of the neurology clinic in Cologne-Merheim, on Friday in the ARD “Morgenmagazin”. It has so far been legal, cheap and available. “You can even get it at the kiosk next to every school now. And that has to stop. The availability has to be stopped,” he said. “An anesthetic does not belong on general sale, it belongs in the hands of doctors. And not between gummy bears.”

In Germany, the sale and consumption of laughing gas is not prohibited. The German Society of Neurology recently warned of the dangers. Consumption is increasing, particularly among adolescents and young adults. According to the Lower Saxony Medical Association, laughing gas is not classified as a drug under the Narcotics Act.


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