The Ministry of Environment환경부 said the Cabinet meeting Tuesday approved the amendment to the Chemical Substance Control Act, designating nitrous oxide, the material of “happy balloon,” as a hallucinogen substance.
|The government has designated nitrous oxide as a hallucinogen substance, prohibiting selling and inhaling balloons filled with the laughing gas.|
Nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas, in the balloon gives the user an intense feeling of euphoria, lasting up to a minute and is similar to taking a “snort” of cocaine, which may lead to loss of sense of direction, or suffocation when inhaled indiscriminately.
Many people have recently pointed to the need to regulate the substance because of the rapid spread of happy balloon or “drug balloon.”
Under the revised enforcement decree of the Chemical Substance Control Act, nitrous oxide is now a hallucinogen, which is prohibited from possessing, selling, providing or inhaling unless it is used for medical purposes.
The current act bans the inhalation of only such substances such as toluene, ethyl acetate, and butane gas. Anyone who inhales or sells these substances can be imprisoned for up to three years or fined of up to 50 million won ($44,840).
Although nitrous oxide is designated as a hallucinogen, there is no limit to the use and sale of nitrous oxide for food additives or pharmaceuticals.
"We will actively deal with chemical substances to prevent damage to the public health," said Chung Hwan-jin정환인, director of the ministry’s Chemical Safety Division. “The public should also be alerted to the misuse of chemical substances.”
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