Whippets are an inhalant drug that many people don’t know about. Young people often use whippets drugs recreationally in addition to other inhalant drugs. Let’s look at inhalant drugs and whether whippet drugs specifically are illegal in NC. We will also discuss what charges you could face if law enforcement catches you using them.
What Are Inhalants? Are They Illegal?
More than 3000 abusable products containing volatile chemicals are legal and accessible to get your hands on, including
- dry-cleaning agents
- cigarette lighters
- permanent markers
- correction fluid
- aerosols with propellants used in whipped cream
- electronic cleaning sprays
- cooking sprays. (1)
However, just because the chemicals are legal does not mean purposely breathing them in to become intoxicated is legal.
What Are Whippets?
Whippets are nitrous oxide, the same drug dentists use to help with anxiety and pain. Nitrous oxide is a legal substance, but it becomes an illegal drug when you use it recreationally. Nitrous oxide is a gas that some individuals abuse as an inhalant to get high.
According to GoodRx, “It’s also called laughing gas, nitro, nangs, and hippy crack. Some people see whippets as harmless fun. But the truth is: Inhaling nitrous to get high can be both illegal and dangerous.”
It’s common for teens and young adults to face charges for use. “In Wilmington, thousands of balloons litter the streets after some concerts due to concertgoers inhaling nitrous oxide, also commonly referred to as “hippy crack” or laughing gas. Dealers sell the substance in balloons for $5 to $10 apiece. When inhaled, people experience brief euphoria and giddiness, only for seconds or minutes.” (2)
Whippets are made by taking nitrous oxide and putting it into a small balloon or a whipped cream container. When the gas is released, it creates a whippet.
There are many risks associated with whippet usage. According to Drugs.com, “Inhalation of nitrous oxide can cause dizziness, weakness, loss of muscle coordination, nausea, and vomiting. High concentrations may also cause fainting and loss of consciousness.”
Are Whippets Drugs Illegal in NC?
North Carolina has a general prohibition on inhaling compounds to induce intoxication. NC Law states that “It is unlawful for any person to knowingly breathe or inhale any compound, liquid, or chemical… or any other substance for the purpose of inducing a condition of intoxication.” (2)
In NC, many inhalant drugs are illegal to breathe in to get intoxicated. North Carolina law lists several illegal inhalants, including:
- toluol: found in paint thinners, varnishes, and even nail polish remover
- hexane: found in spray adhesives, contact cement, arts and craft paints, and stain removers
- trichloroethane: found in automotive products, wood finishes, typewriter correction fluids, cleaners, and polishes, including for electronic equipment, treatments for leather and fabric, adhesives, paint-related products, and lubricants
- Isopropanol: found in rubbing alcohol, antifreeze, disinfectants, cleaning solutions, skin and hair products, and hand sanitizers
- methyl isobutyl ketone: found in aerosol paints, coatings used in construction, and automobile and machinery paints and primers
- methyl cellosolve acetate: mainly used as a solvent
- Cyclohexanone: used in paint thinners, gasoline, and adhesives
- ethyl alcohol is in beverages, perfumes, aftershaves and colognes, medicinal liquids, mouthwashes, liniments, and some rubbing alcohol
- any other substance, including nitrous oxide (whippets)
It is not illegal to own these chemicals, but inhaling them for intoxication is unlawful.
Nitrous oxide is not specifically mentioned in the legal code. However, using nitrous oxide to induce intoxication is illegal in North Carolina. If the police catch you using whippets, you could face criminal charges.
What Criminal Charges Could I Face for Inhalants?
Whippets drug use or other inhalant use is a misdemeanor-level offense in North Carolina. If using them, you could face criminal charges, but they won’t result in consequences as serious as if you had a scheduled drug.
However, if you are driving a vehicle while high on whippets and the officer can make a case that you were driving under the influence, you could get a DWI. A DWI is not a crime you want on your record since it is not eligible for expungement in NC. (3)
What If I Face Possession Charges for Inhalants?
If you’re charged with possession of whippets drugs or other inhalants, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The consequences of a drug conviction can be far-reaching, and an attorney can help protect your rights and defend you in court.
Sometimes law enforcement will charge someone who was just in a car with someone else doing whippets. However, unless the prosecutor can prove that you were guilty of knowing, understanding, and using the illegal substance in the vehicle, you are not guilty of a crime. Sometimes the prosecutor will drop charges for someone who was innocently present at the time.
Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney increases your odds of getting a reduced or dismissed case, whether you or someone else was using the drug.
We Can Help
At Scharff Law, we understand the consequences of a drug conviction. If you’re facing charges for possession of inhalants or whippets drugs, we can help. If you face an addiction, a diversion program may be available to you in place of sentencing. We investigate the circumstances of your arrest, looking for rights violations in addition to defending you in court. Contact us today for a free consultation.