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Not so funny: Thai authorities crack down on 'laughing gas' balloons

Balloons filled with nitrous oxide have proved a hit in backpacker-heavy areas of Thailand, prompting a legal response.

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Thai authorities are cracking down on the sale of balloons filled with nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas. (Wikimedia commons)

Intoxication-minded backpackers on the Southeast Asia circuit, beware: in Thailand, authorities are now cracking down on the sale of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) filled balloon. 

The crack-down began when police noticed the happy balloons being sold along Khao San road, an infamous stretch of backpacker debauchery in the Thai capital city, especially popular with party-loving Westerners.

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Eight vendors have been arrested so far, writes the Associated Press, according to Police Lt Col Pitiphan Kridakorn, and others attempting to beguile backpackers with the substance — often sold for a mere $4 a pop — had best watch their backs. 

Vendors caught selling illegal nitrous oxide could face up to five years in prison and a $300 fine, added the Associated Press. 

Earlier in August, two young women were arrested in the popular beach city of Pattaya for selling balloons filled with laughing gas (sometimes known locally as "funny gas") to tourists, according to the Bangkok Post. 

Most often encountered at the dentist's office, nitrous oxide is used as a sedative and is also the propellant found in cans of whipped cream.

This commonly-found substance is currently enjoying a resurgence in recreational use, as reveling millenials suck the stuff out of balloons and small canisters, often known as "whippets."

Occasionally referred to — tongue firmly placed in cheek — as "hippie crack," nitrous oxide is reasonably safe in small quantities, but can cause oxygen deprivation and vitamin B12 deficiencies if used too often. 

And here are some upstanding youth discovering that nitrous oxide can, indeed, make you fall over — beware of language. 

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/130826/not-so-funny-thai-authorities-crack-down-laughing-ga