TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) on Friday (Oct. 30) listed nitrous oxide as a controlled substance and said any recreational use of the psychoactive drug is strictly prohibited.
Also known as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is a colorless, non-flammable gas commonly used for sedation and pain relief by doctors around the world. However, many people also inhale recreationally since it induces rapid rushes of euphoria.
During a press conference, EPA Toxic and Chemical Substances Bureau Director-General Hsieh Yan-ju (謝燕儒) pointed out the Toxic and Concerned Chemical Substances Control Act had come into effect in January. He said nitrous oxide is the first non-toxic chemical substance to be controlled in Taiwan and that anyone found guilty of possessing, selling, or distributing it will face a hefty fine of up to NT$300,000 (US$10,491).
Hsieh warned the use of nitrous oxide can result in vitamin B12 deficiency, which is responsible for subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord and can cause numbness in the fingers and toes. He added that users may experience nausea, vomiting, hydrocephalus, visual loss, and neurological pain as well as brief hallucinations.
Hsieh pointed out that trading nitrous oxide online is also illegal and that all companies must receive government approval before using it. He said that individuals responsible for the nitrous oxide-induced injury or death of another could receive a sentence ranging from seven years to life imprisonment, reported CNA.