NYC decriminalizes weed and makes sales of whipped cream illegal

The law was passed last year amid concern that teenagers are increasingly getting high by inhaling the nitrous oxide used as a propellant in the canisters.

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA

New York state retailers are rolling out ID checks as they begin to enforce a year-old state law banning the sale of whipped cream canisters to anyone under 21.

The law was passed last year amid concern that teenagers are increasingly getting high by inhaling the nitrous oxide used as a propellant in the canisters. The first offense of selling whipped cream canisters to someone under 21 carries a $250 fine. Fines increase up to $500 for subsequent violations.

According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, nitrous oxide, aka "laughing gas," is a dissociative anesthetic that can be inhaled by discharging nitrous gas cartridges known as "whippets." Aside from the short high, the drug can cause loss of blood pressure, fainting, heart attack, and sudden death and includes potential long-term effects such as memory loss and psychosis.

However, the effort was mocked widely for a state which operates legalized heroin injection sites in its biggest city. According to a recent study of the sites by the JAMA Journal, the mean age of users at the sites was 42.5, based on users between the ages of 18 and 71 years. 18-year-olds can use legal heroin injection sites, but cannot buy whipped cream canisters.

In January, the Big Apple sent out a request for proposals for vending machines for clean needles which like any Coke machine do not require ID. If a user feels so inclined the machines will also over anti-overdose drugs like Naloxone.

Marijuana products are poorly regulated in the state and possession of up to three ounces of weed is legal. Additionally, when Buffalo passed legislation to legalize recreational cannabis last year, they included provisions that allow those with past convictions for some weed-related offenses to have their records expunged.

State lawmakers are even considering decriminalizing possession of hard drugs, psilocybin mushrooms, and other hallucinogens for personal use, an idea that has had disastrous results in states such as Oregon and has led to record overdose deaths.

Additionally, many shoppers are familiar with the experience of arriving home from the store and discovering that their whipped cream canister was out of propellant because someone in the store had already used it to get high.

The Empire State is also plagued by epidemic levels of shoplifting and retail theft causing many to wonder why someone seeking the high from whipped cream canisters would even stop at the cashier to show their ID.


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