According to law enforcement authorities, the use of nitrous oxide as a recreational drug has become more and more prevalent among teenagers. What originally began as a “cheap drug” used somewhat rarely by “ravers” is now being widely distributed at many local parties.
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has started cracking down on the illegal use of nitrous oxide, the chemical used to propel racecars, the product used to pressurize whipping cream cans or the “laughing gas” used by dentists during oral procedures.
The $5- to $10-a-hit drug, coined by the name “Noz,” is used by inhaling, or “huffing,” it directly from a balloon. The high only lasts for a few minutes but can be dangerous, even deadly to use. Still, the street value has reached around $20 million.
Since September of 2012, law enforcement agencies in the Los Angeles area have broken up over 350 parties in which “Noz” has been illegally sold to teens. The case has been dubbed “Operation No Laughing Matter” by the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Much of the recent proliferation of nitrous oxide usage is due to social media’s unique ability to reach large numbers of people with relatively little effort in little time.
The use of nitrous oxide has been directly linked to automobile accidents, assaults, rapes and other violent crimes, despite the fact that the high only lasts a few minutes. Since authorities have begun monitoring social media traffic last September, Sheriff Department officials believe they have prevented at least 30 violent and sexual assaults.
The LASD has been able to prevent many parties before they even started, where “Noz” was to be available. Another party was forced to move locations three times in one night due to the Sheriff’s Deputies’ efforts, before moving the rave outside of their jurisdiction.
It’s important to note, however, that even when the suspected proliferators of “Noz” moved out of their jurisdiction, the Sheriff’s Department was quick to notify other local law enforcement agencies, who were able to continue their crack down on this dangerous drug.
One of the biggest setbacks law enforcement has encountered in the fight against illegal nitrous oxide usage, however, is that it’s currently still easy to get. Further, the charge level for using this drug is currently set as a misdemeanor, which can carry penalties of a $100,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
For California laws regarding the use or sale of nitrous oxide, read California Penal Code Section 381c.
Robin Sandoval is a California Licensed Bail Bondsman and owner of SCV Bail Bonds. Robin writes blogs and articles to help increase community awareness of the bail industry. If you have questions or want to suggest a topic, email robin@scvbailbonds, visit www.scvbailbonds or call 661-299-2245