SEOUL, Jul. 26 (Korea Bizwire) — The South Korean government has criminalized the sale and use of nitrous oxide for the purpose of hallucination, bringing an end to the so-called ‘Happy Balloons’ that have become popular among young Koreans.
A new toxic chemicals law amendment was passed after a National Assembly vote, establishing legal grounds to persecute those who use or sell nitrous oxide, the Ministry of Environment said on Tuesday.
Under the new amendment, those charged with the possession, consumption and sale of the controversial substance can face up to three years in jail or a fine of 50 million won.
The government’s move to regulate the use of nitrous oxide comes after reports that balloons inflated with the substance are becoming increasingly popular at parties and clubs.
Nitrous oxide is a chemical substance used in a number of items including anesthetics and whipping cream, but irresponsible use of the substance as a drug to enjoy its hallucinogenic effect can result in a loss of sense of direction as well as suffocation.
Despite the Ministry of Environment’s effort to raise awareness of substance abuse with the new regulations in place, nitrous oxide will still be used for medicine and food additives.
Ashley Song (firstname.lastname@example.org)