Bipartisan Bill Package Seeks to Limit Nitrous Oxide Abuse

Legislation addresses rebounding trend in southeast Michigan
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

State Reps. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and Joe Bellino (R-Monroe) today introduced bipartisan legislation to limit the sale and distribution of nitrous oxide containers, helping to combat the abuse of the dangerous gas especially among minors.

“Addiction is not a joke and we’re seeing that sections of Michigan have nitrous oxide abuse increasing,” said Bellino, of Monroe. “Anything that will alter our minds, inhibit our coordination, cause liver and kidney damage, and even death from brain anoxia should not be available without significant restrictions.”

Commonly called “whip-its”, the two-bill package seeks to limit distribution of containers carrying just nitrous oxide because it is returning as an inhalant of choice with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reporting over 12 million users in the United States.

Chang is sponsor of the bill criminalizing the sale and distribution of the containers to anyone under the age of 18, working with Bellino’s legislation to allow collection of a civil fine up to $500.

“Over the past few years, I have seen the rise in the abuse of ‘whip-its’ in southwest Detroit,” said Chang, of Detroit. “After talking with various law enforcement officials and residents in my district who are concerned about the rampant abuse and health impacts, we developed this legislation. My bill would prohibit the sale of ‘whip-its’ to minors. This is a common-sense solution to a growing problem all over our state.”

Bellino, a recovering addict for over 30 years, agreed with the legislation’s necessity.

“When you see any drug rebounding in popularity, you’ve got to act instead of letting it destroy more lives,” Bellino said. “Today kids might do ‘whip-its’, but tomorrow they can move on to a drug even more dangerous. We’ve got to block that path.”

House Bills 5463 and 5464 were assigned to the House Regulatory Reform Committee.