Santa Clara County, San Jose cracking down on illegal use, distribution of drug 'whip-its'

Nitrous oxide can cause serious neurological damage, even death.
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A common baking tool has another use as an inhalant drug, and city and county leaders in the South Bay want the public to be aware of the damages it causes.

"Whip-its" are canisters of nitrous oxide used for making whipped cream, it is illegally inhaled or huffed.

Drug use has been blamed for destroying families across the Bay Area, and you may not know about the drug use until it impacts someone you know or love.

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That was the case with De Anna Mirzadegan and whip-its.

"Many kids think that it's safe, so they're looking for a high that they think is safe," Mirzadegan said. "But it's not safe. So they're fooled by it and it is addictive."

Nitrous oxide can cause serious neurological damage, even death. People have been using it for decades.

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A 16-year-old drug dealer was arrested and charged with murder of a 12-year-old San Jose girl who died of a fentanyl overdose, according to officials.

"It's a much larger issue than people realized," Mirzadegan said.

Mirzadegan brought the issue to the attention of Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez and San Jose City Councilmember Dev Davis.

Now, South Bay leaders are working together to curb the issues this drug can cause.

"A number of people have tried to push initiatives through the state and they've been unsuccessful doing that," Chavez said. "I think what it means is cities across the state, parents across the state and even young people across the state have to lean in so we can have some restrictions that are much more safe."

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While the canisters are legal to purchase for cooking purposes, some smoke shops do sell them.

So city leaders want to educate the public and crack down on where they are sold.

"Obviously, most bakers aren't going to vape shops to get their whipped cream canisters and that's really why we need to close this loophole," Davis said. "Places that are selling inhalants should not be selling nitrous oxide. It is not a safe inhalant."

Police tell us they will work with city leaders on inspections of where whip-its are sold to address issues of illegal distribution.

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