Whippits ban passes first committee

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The Senate Public Safety Committee on March 26 unanimously passed Senate Bill 193, a measure to ban smoke shops from selling “whippits.”

“Nitrous oxide is a legal chemical for legitimate use but when abused, it is extremely lethal,” said Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama), who authored the measure. “Young people buy and inhale this gas to get high because they mistakenly believe it is a safe substance.”

Specifically, Senate Bill 193, if passed and signed into law, would prohibit smoke and tobacco 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.”

Following his son’s confinement to a wheelchair, Patrick O’Brien, who testified before the committee, asked Nielsen to introduce this measure to help prevent other families from the anguish he and his family endured. 

“My 19-year-old son was able to walk into a smoke shop to easily, legally, and cheaply purchase a large quantity of a nitrous oxide,” O’Brien said. “In my opinion, there isn’t a viable reason to sell this substance in a smoke shop. My concern about whippets and the damage it causes to the central nervous system led me to reach out to Sen. Nielsen and share my story.”

Senate Bill 193 will now move onto the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development for its consideration on April 8.