Authorities are waking up to the black market pedaling nitrous oxide in Portugal: better known as laughing gas, and a substance that is suddenly very much in fashion for recreational use.
Police have started apprehending laughing gas canisters in various nightspots, explains TSF radio.
There have been incidents over the summer in Albufeira, Almada, and Monte da Caparica – the latter leading to the discovery of no less than 164 laughing gas canisters.
João Goulão, President of SICAD, explains this is not about laughing. Inhaling nitrous oxide can kill (if people somehow overdose) – thus SICAD has been in talks with Infarmed and with the AT customs authority, as well as ASAE (health and safety agency), to try and find out how this gas is making its way into Portugal in the first place.
The trouble is that a quick internet search will throw up any number of sites openly dealing in nitrous oxide here.
There are sites called ‘pt enjoy gas’, laughing gas pt” and even ‘laughing gas portimao’ which claims to be able to deliver within 30 minutes “everywhere in Portimão”.
The gas, which apparently gives the “sensation of relaxation, inebriation, and provokes uncontrolled laughter” has an effect that lasts only a few minutes, which leads to people wanting a repeat experience, warns Mr Goulão – and that’s where the danger of possible overdoses kicks in.
For now SICAD is hoping to be in touch with nightclubs and events organisations to try and combat the phenomenon, says TSF.
Nitrous oxide is more usually used in hospitals, and can be used in automobile racing, to make cars go faster. But it is not meant to be freely available on the commercial market.