NZ - Shop owner prosecuted for having nitrous oxide for sale

By Thirdedge · Apr 16, 2007 · ·
  1. Thirdedge
    NZPA | Friday, 13 April 2007

    A Christchurch shop owner has been prosecuted by the Ministry of Health for having canisters of the party gas nitrous oxide for sale.

    Tony Dexter Valentine, part-owner of The Cell in Manchester Street, central Christchurch, today admitted the charge of possessing a prescription medicine for sale, when he appeared in Christchurch District Court.

    Judge John Bisphan remanded him to a crown sentencing session on May 9, when he is due for sentence on other charges. He is already being held in custody and did not seek bail today.

    The ministry's prosecutor, Zannah Johnston, told the court nitrous oxide, known as NOS, had been a prescription-only medicine under the Medicines Regulations since 2000.

    Nitrous oxide bulbs, ostensibly for use in whipped cream dispensers, had been sold in New Zealand for years. Vendors sold it for recreational intoxication by inhalation, or "huffing".

    "Whipped cream dispensers are often used as `crackers' – a device used to extract the gas from the metal bulbs in order to fill balloons with nitrous oxide. The gas in the balloon is then inhaled to give a temporary period of intoxication and anaesthesia. Most of the vendors who sell nitrous oxide for this purpose are also in the business of selling products general known as `legal highs' or `party pills'," Miss Johnston said.

    In April 2000, following increasing concern from the community over the misuse of nitrous oxide as a recreational drug, the ministry issued a warning to retailers and the public that sale, and use, of nitrous oxide for recreational intoxication was unlawful.

    There was considerable publicity, and warning letters were sent to all known or suspected suppliers. The Cell was given written and oral warnings against the sale of nitrous oxide.

    The premises were part-owned by Valentine, who stated on July 29, 2005, that he would continue to sell nitrous oxide and was happy to face prosecution.

    A search warrant executed at The Cell on August 31, 2005, found NOS for sale.

    Valentine told the officials: "I've just had a container of canisters arrive this week."

    The officials asked him where it was, but he replied: "Do you think I'm going to tell you so you can take half a million dollars worth of cream canisters?"

    He also said he was expecting a second container from China and Taiwan in the next week.

    A shop assistant said NOS was sold for $17.95 a box.


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  1. fnord
    "Do you think I'm going to tell you so you can take half a million dollars worth of cream canisters?"

    LOL...that make a ton of whip let me get this its ileagle to sell for recreatinal use but leagle for it to be sold for makeing whip cream,anyone know how theyll prove what it was being sold for?and how the fuck did this guy have .5 million worth of nos?
  2. Thirdedge
    NOS was always listed as a medicine but never enforced. By 2005 many headshops and even nightclubs were selling Balloons fill of it openly for consumption, there was public outcry, Jim Anderton (Prohibionist Politition) investigated and found it was already sceduled as a medicine so decided to start enforcing the law . . .

    They have repeatedly stated that sellers pretending to sell for cream whipping purposes but who in reality know the product will be inhaled will be charged.

    However, it is a legal grey area and as far as I can see this will be a test case.

    NOS comes in three grades, medicinal, food and automotive. Therefore as food grade and automotive grade have no medicinal use how can they possibly be classed as a medicine?
  3. BingoBango
    good point

    and if the purpose of buying it wasn't medicinal either?:p
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