Balloons filled with nitrous
oxide put two men in jail after police say they caught them selling the "laughing
gas" in the Marigny.
While many use the gas for kicks, doctors say it's potential side effects are nothing to take lightly. It comes in tanks. Some is sold for doctors to use as an anesthesia, others sold for industrial uses.
On the streets of the Marigny on Thursday, New Orleans police arrested 50-year-old Dale Fitzpatrick and 31-year-old Grant McDaniel for selling nitrous oxide - the industrial kind.
"Our plainclothes narcotics guys saw them selling it out of the balloons," said Lt. Anthony Caprera with the NOPD.
It's been going on for years - people seeking a cheap high, buying hits of the nitrous for a couple of bucks. But the experts say it's no laughing matter.
Dr. James Diaz with LSU Health Sciences says nitrous oxide can produce a temporary feeling of euphoria, along with a number of dangerous side effects, including oxygen deprivation to the brain, loss of motor control, nausea and even nerve damage.
"You may get loss of sensation in fingers and toes," Diaz said.
People along Frenchmen Street say it's not unusual for people to sell nitrous oxide here, especially during festivals. In fact, police say they had seen these suspects before.
"One of the guys arrested got a summons over the weekend," said Caprera.
No summons this time. Fitzpatrick and McDaniel are locked up, charged with distribution of nitrous oxide, and possession with intent to distribute.
"The chronic effects can be permanent," Diaz said.
In addition to the arrests, police say they confiscated 11 tanks of laughing gas as well as a $1,000 in cash.
Police say the two suspects were arrested by undercover officers, after they got a tip from neighbors.