As use spikes, Amsterdam looks to end “laughing gas” sale by cargo bike

Active since March, Ufogas serves Amsterdam’s nightlife with a steady supply of laughing gas (nitrous oxide) via thirteen cargo bikes. Usually posted up in Leidseplein, Rembrandtplein, Reguliersdwarsstraat, and the Red Light District, the company operates without a proper vending permit, yet authorities remain powerless to stop the operation given its operations within certain courier law loopholes.

Run by 25-year-old Deniz Üresin, Ufogas sells single balloons for 5 Euro or three for 10 Euro, from night until early morning, pulling in tens of thousands across its 40-odd employees. Üresin’s company allows people to order gas online in Leidseplein, to which it is delivered immediately. Legally, delivery can take up to 15 minutes, but if a new order follows, that period is extended by another 15 minutes, resulting in Üresin and his employees never actually needing to leave the sales location.

Despite the legal loopholes and police efforts, Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema says, “We want to take action against this form of laughing gas sales”. Halsema has requested, alongside other city mayors, that nitrous oxide be considered under the Medicines Act, also looking into whether it creates enough of a nuisance to be covered under APV regulations.

The newfound focus on laughing gas comes as the national poisoning information center NVIC describes the increase in health risks associated with nitrous oxide use a “worrying development”. Being used more frequently and in increased quantities, it has attributed to some 67 health-related reports this year (up from 54 in all of 2018). These problems can range from nausea, headache, impaired vision, and anxiety to ice burns. Despite this, “we are just having a good time in the city,” proclaims Üresin.

Source: Het Parool

Featured Image: Hansmuller [CC BY-SA]


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