Home > Seanad Éireann debate - Vol. 297 No. 8. An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business [Nitrous Oxide Bill].

[Oireachtas] Seanad Éireann debate - Vol. 297 No. 8. An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business [Nitrous Oxide Bill]. (29 Nov 2023)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/seanad...

Senator Regina Doherty: I propose an amendment to the Order of Business, that No. 10 be taken before No. 1.

We are introducing the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) (Control of Nitrous Oxide) Bill 2023. As most Members are aware, nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, is probably the recreational drug most abused by those aged 18 or younger. It is probably apt that we have such an abundant number of young people under the age of 18 with us in the Gallery. It is particularly popular among teenagers due to the temporary buzz it provides.

More important, it is popular especially because of its ease of access. It has become easy to buy the canisters online, with some websites even making special offers. Its use is on the rise and, as many of us will be aware, it has become closely linked to antisocial behaviour, from intimidating gatherings to the littering with canisters of public spaces. A lot of Tidy Towns groups have reported to us that they find multiple cans when they go out on their daily litter clean-up.

In an effort to combat antisocial behaviour but also because of the rise of the awareness of this drug, my Fine Gael colleagues and I have drafted a Bill that will amend the Misuse of Drugs Act and related Acts and allow provisions to be made for the control of this substance under law. There are serious concerns about the use of laughing gas by young people because it has been known to cause hallucinations, blurred vision and nausea and excessive use can have even more long-term consequences. The symptoms are a result of what inhaling laughing gas does to the body. It deactivates vitamin B12 and causes damage to the brain and, in particular, to the nervous system. It can also prevent oxygen from properly entering the bloodstream, which is very concerning for our young people.

We recognise that there is, undoubtedly, a role for nitrous oxide to play in some small parts of society, such as medicine, pain relief and dentistry, but we are seeking to give the Minister the power to restrict its sale in Ireland, especially online, and make sure there are only specific uses for the drug. I hope we can amend the proposed Order of Business in that regard.

Senator Mary Seery Kearney: I support the amendment proposed by Senator Doherty to the Order of Business to take No. 10 before No. 1, regarding the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) (Control of Nitrous Oxide) Bill 2023. It is incredibly important that we bring this forward. I am chair of a drugs task force and am aware of the increase in nitrous oxide use. The view of some parents that it is safe and that it is a recreational thing to do in the home is really quite shocking when, in fact, it has damaged young people. Young people have received cognitive impairment that they will never recover from as a consequence of this and it is time it was put on the footing that is set out in that Bill.

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
Inhalents and solvents
Intervention Type
29 November 2023

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