Highs and lows in Pattaya as marijuana shop puts its foot on the illegal laughing gas peddle

Photo courtesy of The Straits Times

In Pattaya, a shop selling legal marijuana products was discovered to be selling laughing gas to tourists too.

A discreet investigation revealed that the shop, operating under the guise of a legal enterprise, was surreptitiously selling nitrous oxide balloons to an unsuspecting clientele, comprising both Thai locals and curious foreign tourists. The audacity of the operation was epitomised by a brazen sign that hung in plain sight, enticing passersby:

“Happy balloon. Buy 10, get two free balloons and one glass of beer.”

Tourists, lured by the promise of euphoria, were seen willingly inhaling nitrous oxide within the confines of the shop. The spectacle unfolded as some enthusiasts, unable to contain their newfound joy, attempted to carry the forbidden balloons into nearby bars. However, vigilant guards thwarted these attempts at the entrance.

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The unsuspecting tourists engaging in this laughter-filled escapade might be in for a rude awakening. The Medicine Act of 1967 in Thailand explicitly prohibits the sale of nitrous oxide, carrying severe consequences. Offenders face the prospect of up to five years of imprisonment and a hefty fine of 10,000 baht, reported The Straits Times.

Originally used as a sedative in medical and dental procedures, nitrous oxide has found an illicit second life on the streets of Pattaya. Aptly nicknamed happy gas due to its ability to induce mild euphoria and giggling fits, its unregulated sale poses a serious threat to the well-being of those caught in its laughter-filled web.

Up until November 8, nitrous oxide fell under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 in the UK, prohibiting its production, supply, import, and export for recreational use. Post this date, the UK government reclassified nitrous oxide as a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, broadening the scope to include possession.

While casual users often perceive nitrous oxide as a means to a safe high, the potential for neurological harm, leading to permanent damage if untreated, remains widely unknown. In Australia, rising cases of neurotoxicity prompted public health concerns, resulting in legislative measures in South Australia in 2020 to restrict canister sales.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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