Is Nitrous Oxide Illegal or Legal?

In the United States, the possession of nitrous oxide is not illegal especially when it is used for medication given by a professional doctor or dentist. It is considered illegal (in other states) if it is used for personal consumption. It is prohibited by the law to inhale N2O to get high.

Most localities in the US consider the consumption and possession of N2O legal. The gas also known as “nitrous” is used to boost speed and power of vehicles (although the engine combustion sometimes causes violations of the traffic laws). In this case, the government is requiring a certified system component to avoid arresting drivers with automobiles set with N2O.


Federal law

The federal law of the United States recognizes possession of nitrous oxide, legal. The legality of the gas is governed by the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA regulates the sales and distribution of N2O and not the possession.

The Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act states that the prosecution is only possible for “misbranding” clauses. It only prohibits the sales and distribution of N2O for the purpose of inhaling the gas. The intention of the buyer for recreational purposes should be proven by the court.

State Law

Every State have different regulations in the possession, sales and distribution of N2O. The law does not ban the possession and distribution completely. It only bans the market of the gas to the minors; another is by setting up a limit for the amount to be sold. It basically restricts the sales and distribution of N2O used as a recreational drug. Stores are required to get a special license for this operation.

Mainly, nitrous oxide is only legitimate when it is intended for human consumption under the care of a licensed physician. Some States determine the gas as illegal if it is inhaled for intoxication purposes. While other states deliberate the purpose of inhaling the gas is a crime.

Another legitimate use of nitrous oxide is for vehicle racing. It the so called “nitrous oxide system” of automobiles. However, there are reports that some drivers are caught by police with vehicles equipped with N2O on the grounds that they might utilize the gas as a cheap “drug.” The automobile upgraded with N2O is mixed with sulfur dioxide making it impossible to inhale. Some vehicle racing competitions ban N2O. The drivers of the racing cars set with N2O will be subjected to disqualification or suspension if proven guilty.

Legal Advice

If you will be charged of illegal possession or illegal sale and distribution of nitrous oxide under the state of federal law, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer. The lawyer will explain the laws and regulations that govern the drug to the person guilty of the crime. The legal officer will let you understand the case and the rules in your place and will explain the possible defenses that will let you win the case or at least lessen the punishment.