no laughing matter | 

Almost 140,000 canisters of ‘Hippy Crack’ seized in Ireland so far this year

Revenue seized €1.9 million worth of the drug this week alone

Nitrous oxide canisters are being widely used to get high.

Clodagh Meaney

The latest seizure of 59,000 canisters of nitrous oxide, also known as ‘Hippy Crack’ worth €1.9m brings the total amount of canisters seized this year to almost 140,000, a Fine Gael TD has said.

It comes as Revenue officers in Dublin and Meath seized 59,135 canisters of the gas on Thursday during an intelligence-led operation.

The drug has become popular with recreational users in recent years in Ireland and abroad.

While the product has a legitimate use in the catering industry, Revenue said that they have the power to detain and seize psychoactive substances in “instances where there are reasonable grounds for believing they were imported for illegitimate purposes.”

"This seizure is part of Revenue’s ongoing operations targeting the illicit trade in, and the importation of, psychoactive substances into Ireland, and investigations are ongoing," Revenue said in a statement.

Deputy Emer Higgins said, “I was recently informed by PQ (Parliamentary Question) that over 80,000 nitrous oxide canisters had been seized this year up until September. This week’s latest seizure has almost doubled that figure.

“This mammoth seizure is yet more evidence of the growing issue with nitrous oxide misuse that we have in Ireland.

“Inhaling nitrous oxide, or laughing gas as it’s known, is not just a bit of fun. It has been linked to a number of deaths in the UK and we’re seeing increased hospitalisation rates in Ireland.”

The Fine Gael TD says that easy access is causing a huge issue, and has called on Google to take action to prevent it being sold online.

“It’s far too straightforward for anyone of any age with access to the internet to pop online and order nitrous oxide to their home in a couple of clicks.

“I welcomed Amazon’s decision earlier this year to stop advertising nitrous oxide and I have called on Google to do the same.”

“In my view, it’s unacceptable that any company should profit from this growing problem by selling ads for nitrous oxide gas canisters. I recently wrote to Google to ask them to take action urgently.”

“Education and awareness are also factors and I think we must inform young people of the associated dangers of nitrous oxide.

"People who inhale the gas can experience dizziness, disorientation, impaired memory, as well as incidents tripping and falling,” she explained, adding: “I commend the Gardaí and Revenue officers on this seizure and for continuing to take nitrous oxide misuse very seriously.”


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