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Websites ‘must block illicit nitrous oxide sales’

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Media captionExplained: What is nitrous oxide – or ‘nos’?

A trading standards expert has warned online stores need to “take responsibility” to prevent the illicit sale of nitrous oxide.

The gas – dubbed “laughing gas” or “nos” – is being sold with equipment needed to take it as a high on sites like Amazon and eBay.

It is the second most commonly used recreational drug in England and Wales after cannabis.

Sales are tricky to police as it has legal uses in catering and pain relief.

Nitrous oxide is sold on Amazon and eBay alongside the “crackers” and balloons used to take it.

On social media sellers were happy to deliver around the clock.

Samantha – not her real name – used nos when she was younger after a housemate bought it on Amazon.

The 22-year-old from Cardiff said: “When you’re that age and everyone around you is doing it, and you’re not really seeing any bad, negative impacts from it, you think, ‘Oh it’s fine, it’s something that young people do’.”

But she experienced fizzing in her nose, nausea and a tight chest after taking a substance friends bought online.

Image caption It was discovered being sold on eBay and Amazon

They thought it was nos. It was CO2.

Carbon dioxide is not used recreationally but inhaling it carries similar risks.

“The next day I felt really, really terrible, and I think it was a lot of anxiety about what I’d done the night before,” Samantha said.

“It was something that turned me off doing anything like that because it was so scary.”

Nitrous oxide – the highs and lows

  • Effects include euphoria, calmness, dizziness, difficulty thinking straight, giggling and hallucinations
  • Inhaling nitrous oxide from the canister or in an enclosed space – like with a bag over your head – is very dangerous
  • By inhaling nitrous oxide the user risks falling unconscious or suffocating from lack of oxygen. People have died this way
  • If someone collapses after using nos, turn them on to their side, call 999 and stay with them until an ambulance arrives

Source: Frank

Nitrous oxide has been linked to 17 deaths in the last three years, according to official statistics. Among 16 to 24-year-olds about one in 11 used it last year.

Legislation introduced in 2016 made it illegal to sell as a high.

Prosecutors say the law is not working because its legal uses make enforcement tricky.

BBC Wales found boxes of nos canisters being sold on Amazon in a special deal including the balloons used to take it.

On eBay, some “crackers” were sold alongside balloons. There were money-saving deals on bulk purchases and nos canisters advertised in the “similar sponsored items” section.

When BBC Wales searched for nitrous oxide canisters on both sites, crackers and balloons also came up in searches and were suggested by the sites’ algorithms as products that could be bought with nos.

Image caption The gas is often inhaled using balloons

Amazon has since removed the product being sold as a package of nos canisters and balloons.

The company said sellers must follow their guidelines.

A spokesman said: “Those who do not will be subject to action including potential removal of their account.”

An eBay spokesman said: “Listings encouraging illegal activity are banned from eBay’s platform.

“We have removed the items and are taking enforcement action against the sellers.”

‘Huge concern’

Nitrous oxide is also sold through social media accounts.

Many carry warnings against recreational use, but when a BBC Wales investigator called five sellers in Wales and south-west England, all were happy to deliver nos that night – despite the reporter saying it was for recreational use.

Some offered discount deals for multiple boxes.

Caerphilly council’s Tim Keohane secured one of Wales’ first prosecutions of a shop for illegally selling it in August.

Caerphilly and Gwent Police prosecuted Khehra Store Ltd after it was found to have sold nos at the 7-11 shop in Bedwas Road, Caerphilly, in 2018.

The firm and its boss were hit with fines and charges of about £2,000.

Anyone found guilty of selling or giving away nitrous oxide for illegal purposes can face up to seven years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

Image copyright Wellcome Collection
Image caption Nitrous oxide has been used recreationally since the early 1800s

Mr Keohane said the offence was harder to prove with online vendors. They can flout the law by selling items separately or posting disclaimers against misuse.

He said the drug’s widespread use among the young and online sales were a “huge concern”.

But its legitimate uses – such as for producing whipped cream – made legislating against web distribution difficult.

Mr Keohane said: “Companies like Amazon and eBay need to take responsibility because it is so difficult to police the internet and sellers.”

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said many are unaware of the risks.

They include breathing difficulties, increased heart rate, burns and death.

Mental health nurse Jeremy Davis, of RCN Wales, said: “For every young person who has a balloon at a party and has five minutes that are the best of their evening, there is another one who wakes up in A&E.

“There are four or five more [each year] who don’t wake up.”

In May, several 4ft cylinders were stolen from Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr Tydfil.

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-50422225

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6 ‘probable’ vaping-related lung injury cases linked to Massachusetts dispensaries

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(CNN)A state investigation into vaping-related lung injury cases in Massachusetts has found that vape products used in six probable cases were purchased legally from dispensaries. All of the products contained THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary psychoactive component of cannabis.

None of the confirmed cases in the investigation involved products purchased from dispensaries.
Details from this investigation into vape products were released on Thursday and included 49 vaping-related lung injury cases total, 16 of which were “confirmed” and 33 of which were “probable.”
    The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission said in an email Friday that it is reviewing the information and will use it for the commission’s ongoing investigation into whether marijuana products manufactured by licensees in Massachusetts contain substances of concern.
    “Public health and safety remain paramount to the Commission,” the statement said. “The agency continues to test samples from licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers and Marijuana Establishments to understand whether legal products contain vitamin E acetate or other contaminants of concern while its quarantine on marijuana vaping products, except medical-use flower vaporizers, remains in place.”
    There have been 2,291 cases of lung injury in the United States linked to vaping as of December 4, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaping-related lung injuries have been reported in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
    In tracking these cases, the CDC has decided to include only cases that resulted in hospitalization. As a result, CDC removed 175 non-hospitalized cases from its previously reported national case counts. The last report, released on November 21, had recorded 2,290 cases of lung injury linked to vaping.
    The CDC on Thursday also reported 48 confirmed deaths in 25 states and the District of Columbia.

    Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.

      While it appears that vitamin E acetate, a thickener used in some vaping products, is linked to the lung injury cases, the agency said it can’t rule out other chemicals.
      “CDC recommends that people should not use THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly from informal sources like friends, family, or in-person or online dealers,” the agency said. “In addition, people should not add any substances to e-cigarette or vaping products that are not intended by the manufacturer, including products purchased through retail establishments.”

      Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/06/health/vaping-marijuana-massachusetts-bn/index.html

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      Driver rushing to see girlfriend jailed over crash

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      Image copyright Hampshire Constabulary
      Image caption There was “no evidence of braking at all” by Ben Jobling, prosecutors said

      A driver who killed a pedestrian as he rushed to get home to pick up his girlfriend before going on a night out has been jailed.

      Ben Jobling crashed while carrying out an illegal overtaking manoeuvre as he drove at 50mph in a 30mph street.

      Martin Rogers, 31, was pronounced dead at the scene in Smannell Road in Andover, Hampshire, in February 2018.

      Jobling, 20, was jailed for two-and-half-years after being found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

      Image copyright Rogers family
      Image caption Martin Rogers (left), pictured with his brother Dean, died after being hit by Jobling’s car

      Mr Rogers was with friends when he was hit by Jobling’s Vauxhall Corsa at 17:10 GMT on 25 February.

      There was “no evidence of braking at all”, prosecutors said during Jobling’s trial at Winchester Crown Court.

      During his journey he had overtaken “slow” vehicles, even doing so on a pedestrian crossing just moments before the crash.

      Mr Rogers was probably “drowsy and disorientated” from a “cocktail of drugs” when he entered the road near Icknield Way, the jury was told.

      ‘Moment of madness’

      The court heard he had taken cannabis, cocaine, diazepam, methadone and morphine.

      Jobling, of Romney Road in Andover, admitted speeding and illegally overtaking but claimed Mr Rogers ran into the road.

      He pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving, but was convicted of the more serious charge after a trial.

      Jobling was also disqualified from driving for three years and three months when he was sentenced at Salisbury Crown Court earlier.

      Sgt Mark Furse, from Hampshire Constabulary, said: “This was a death that could easily have been avoided. Being in a rush is absolutely no excuse to drive dangerously and at excessive speeds.

      “One moment of madness has had a lifelong impact on two families, one of whom will never get to see their loved one again in the case of Mr Rogers’ family.”

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      Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-50643583

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      Boy ‘lay in pool of blood after rival gang attack’

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      Image copyright Met Police
      Image caption Jaden Moodie is the youngest person to be stabbed to death in London in 2019

      A 14-year-old boy lay “quivering” in a pool of blood after being stabbed at least nine times by a rival gang, a court has heard.

      Jaden Moodie was attacked by three men in Leyton, north-east London, on 8 January, the Old Bailey has been told.

      In a witness statement, read out in court, one man said he saw three men “stomping on someone” on Bickley Road.

      Ayoub Majdouline, 19, of Wembley in north London, denies murder and possession of a knife.

      The witness said he had been sitting at home when he heard a loud crash on Bickley Road.

      He saw three people get out of a Mercedes before one of them began “stomping on someone” on the ground, the court heard.

      He also saw someone with a “London rudeboy accent, kicking someone on the ground” before someone said, “quick, let’s get out of here”.

      Image copyright Julia Quenzler
      Image caption Ayoub Majdouline denies murdering the teenager and possession of a knife

      The trial of Mr Majdouline has previously heard Jaden had been riding his moped around the streets where the “Beaumont Crew” gang was known to operate, and with whom he was linked.

      “He dealt drugs for them and is likely to have been doing just that on this particular evening – he must have felt safe in this area and it is unlikely that he anticipated that anything untoward might happen to him,” prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC said.

      Mr Majdouline, who is allegedly linked to rival gang the “Mali Boys”, had been in a stolen Mercedes which was driven at Jaden, causing him to be “catapulted” over the bonnet, Mr Glasgow added.

      The defendant and two others, all armed with knives, then got out of the car and began stabbing Jaden repeatedly, jurors heard.

      The attack “violent and frenzied” attack lasted 14 seconds, the court has been told.

      Another witness told the court Jaden was “quivering” and that “thick trails of blood” were coming from the car the teenager lay underneath.

      Forensic practitioner Ian Hounsell, who was in the area at the time of the attack, told jurors he could hear the teenager “grunting” and that he noticed several slit marks at the back of Jaden’s jacket.

      He administered CPR, but the 14-year-old was pronounced dead at 19:09 GMT.

      Post-mortem examinations detected Jaden had previously used cannabis, the court was told.

      The trial continues.

      Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-50626957

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