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> Legislation > Inhalant Laws

Inhalant Laws

State Laws on Inhalant Use

Information provided by the Office of Legislative Research, July 2009.

SUMMARY
Connecticut law bans the unauthorized manufacture or compounding, possession, control, sale, delivery, or administration of any restricted substance. It defines restricted substances as amyl nitrite and specific volatile substances if they are sold, compounded, possessed or controlled, or delivered or administered to another person for breathing, inhaling, sniffing, or drinking to induce a stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect. Violators can be fined up to $100.

Twenty-four states specifically ban the use, possession, or sale or other distribution of inhalants. Most define inhalants as products like glue and solvents that can cause mind-altering effects; many specify chemical compounds that, when present in a product, make it an inhalant. Nearly all the states apply the prohibition to anyone who uses or delivers a banned product; a few apply it only to minors. In over half the states, the person inhaling the substance must intend to become intoxicated or distort his or her senses; many also require a person distributing an inhalant to know that it would be abused. In nearly all states, violations are misdemeanors. Penalties range from $25 fines to $10,000 fines and from 30 days or less in jail to up to six years in prison.

INHALANTS BACKGROUND
Inhalants are breathable chemical vapors or gases that produce mind-altering effects when inhaled. They include a broad range of common products such as model airplane glue, octane booster, spot remover, and vegetable cooking spray (volatile solvents); hair spray, air freshener, and fabric protector (aerosols); nitrous oxide, butane, and helium (gases); and amyl, butyl, and isobutyl nitrites (nitrites). Side effects associated with inhalant use include dizziness, hallucinations, apathy, and impaired judgment. Continued use can result in weight loss, muscle weakness, disorientation, and depression, while chronic abuse may cause serious and sometimes irreversible heart, liver, kidney, lung, or brain damage.

CONNECTICUT INHALANT LAW
Connecticut law bans the unauthorized manufacture, compounding, possession, control, sale, delivery, or administration of any restricted substance. It defines restricted substances to include amyl nitrite and specific volatile substances to the extent they are sold, prescribed, dispensed, compounded, possessed or controlled, or delivered or administered to another person for breathing, inhaling, sniffing, or drinking to induce a stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect. Vendors of volatile substances break the law only if they knew or should have known that the substance was to be used for illicit purposes.

The restricted substances listed in statute are: acetone; benzene; butyl alcohol; butyl nitrate and its salts, isomers, esters, ethers or their salts; cyclohexanone; dichlorodifluoromethane; ether; ethyl acetate; formaldehyde; hexane; isopropanol; methanol; methyl cellosolve acetate; methyl ethyl ketone; methyl isobutyl ketone; nitrous oxide; pentachlorophenol; toluene; toluol; trichloroethane; trichloroethylene; 1,4 butanediol. The consumer protection commissioner can designate more restricted substances by regulation (see Conn. Agency Regs. , 21a-243-1 to -4).

There is no specific penalty for violating this law, consequently the penalty is a fine of up to $100 (the general penalty when none is expressly provided, CGS 54-195). The law presumes that anyone found to have inhaled or to be under the influence of one of these substances is psychologically dependent on them and, it provides that, to the extent possible, individuals who breathe, inhale, sniff, or drink these substances are to be afforded medical treatment rather than criminal sanctions (CGS 21a-240(49), -245, -254, -279(f), -281).

OTHER STATES' INHALANT LAWS

Criminal Laws
Twenty-four states specifically ban the use, possession, or sale or other distribution of inhalants, according to a 2007 compilation of laws from the National Conference of State Legislatures, which we updated. Table 1 (below) summarizes these laws.

Most states broadly define inhalants as types of products (e.g. glue and aerosols) that can produce mind-altering effects, and many, like Connecticut, specify the chemical compounds whose presence makes a product an inhalant. Five states specifically target nitrous oxide in addition to other substances.

In nearly all the states, the prohibitions apply to anyone who uses or delivers a banned product. But Arizona's, Idaho's, and Illinois's laws apply only to minors. Over half the states require the person to use the substance with the intention of becoming intoxicated, euphoric, elated, or stupefied or distorting his or her senses. Many states also require someone distributing an inhalant to know that it would be abused. Most states make exceptions for people using anesthesia for medical or dental purposes or using substances under a healthcare practitioner's direction. And some states exempt glue sold in hobby kits.

In most states, violations of these laws are misdemeanors. Penalties range from $25 fines to $10,000 fines and from 30 days or less in jail to up to six years in prison.

A limited electronic search of statutes also found that several states (Alaska, Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, Utah, and Vermont) specifically include inhalants in their laws governing driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. We can provide more information on this topic at your request.

Education
Oregon and California require state-level inhalant education efforts. Oregon requires its Human Services Department to develop education resources for: (1) parents, focusing on inhalant abuse by minors and the risks of inhalant use and (2) for merchants, encouraging them to post signs informing the public that inhalant use is illegal and potentially deadly. California includes inhalants in its drug abuse prevention and suppression program. This program awards funds to local law enforcement agencies and schools that jointly develop programs to address drug trafficking in and around school campuses. Programs can include drug traffic interventions, school- and classroom-oriented programs designed to increase awareness of drugs' effects, and family-oriented prevention programs.

 STATEPROHIBITED SUBSTANCE PROHIBITED ACTS INTENDED TO: DOES NOT APPLY TO: PENALTIES 
Arizona Vapor-releasing substance containing a toxic substance

Nitrous oxide (NO)
  Breathe, inhale, drink

Sell, transfer, offer to sell to someone < 18

< 18 & using false ID to obtain NO

<18 & soliciting someone to sell NO
Not specifiedSales made in the normal course of business by licensed commercial establishments and their employees that regularly sell these productsBreathe, inhale, drink, sell, offer to sell vapor-releasing substance or NO: 6 months to 2. 5 years in prison

Using false ID to obtain NO: 6 months in prison

<18 & soliciting someone to sell NO: 30 days in prison
CaliforniaMaterial containing toluene

Substances that have toxic qualities similar to toluene as determined by Health Services Dept.

Glue, cement, paint, paint thinner, solvents
Possess or knowingly be under influence

Sell, dispense, distribute to someone <18
Cause intoxication, stupefaction, elation, euphoria, dizziness; change, distort, disturb auditory, visual, mental processSale of:

gasoline or motor vehicle fuel to someone <18

glue certified by Health Services Dept.

glue that is part of model or hobby kit
Possession & being under influence: fine up to $ 1,000, up to six months in county jail, or both

Sale <18: Fine between $ 1,000 and $ 2,500 or between 6 months and 1 year in prison
ColoradoFumes of products containing specified chemical compoundsKnowingly:

smell or inhale

possess, sell, or use

aid anyone to use
Cause euphoria, excitement, stupefaction, or dulled sensesInhaling anesthesia or other substances for medical or dental purposes

Fine up to $ 500, up to 6 months in prison, or both

No prison term for 1st offense
FloridaCompounds, liquids, or chemicals containing specified chemical compounds

NO
Inhale, ingest, possess

Possess, buy, sell with intent to aid anyone to inhale

sell, purchase, transfer, or possess > 16 grams of NO
Induce intoxication or disturb auditory, visual, or mental processesPossession of substances used in medical treatmen
Inhale, possess, or aid inhaling of specified substances: up to 60 days in prison

Sell, purchase, transfer, or possess NO: up to 5 years in prison
GeorgiaGlue, solvent, or other substance containing specified chemical compounds
Intentionally inhale

Possess, sell, transfer, receive to aid someone to inhale

Sell or transfer to minor

Minor possess or buy
Cause euphoria, excitement, stupefaction, or dulled sensesInhaling anesthesia for medical or dental purposes

Minor who has parental permission to purchase
Fine up to $ 1,000, 1 year in jail, or both
HawaiiSubstance that includes volatile organic solvents or capable of producing intoxication when inhaled
UseNot specified
No exceptions specified
Fine up to $100, up to 3 mo. in prison, or both
Idaho Aerosol spray product or other inhalant (glue, cement, or other substance containing specified chemical compounds)Possess or use by minorInduce intoxication, stupefaction, depression, giddiness, paralysis, irrational behavior; change, distort, disturb auditory, visual, mental processUse that follows a doctor's or manufacturer's instructionsFine up to $ 300, 30 days in juvenile detention, or both
Illinois Compound, liquid, chemical containing specified chemical compoundsUse

Sell or deliver to anyone <17 knowing product will be abused
Induce intoxication, stupefaction, depression, giddiness, paralysis, irrational behavior; change, distort, disturb auditory, visual, mental processSale to <17 year old with written parental permissionUp to 30 days in prison
Kentucky Glue, cement, paint, or other substance containing a solvent or chemical that releases toxic vaporsIntentionally smell or inhale fumes

Intentionally sell, deliver, or give
Cause intoxication, inebriation, stupefaction, dulling of brain or nervous system; distort auditory, visual, mental processes

No exceptions specifiedUse: Up to 90 days in prison or placement in a treatment facility for up to 90 days

Sale: 1 to 5 years in prison
Louisiana Model glue, toxic vaporsIntentionally smell or inhale

Sell or transfer glue to a minor
Cause intoxication, elation, euphoria, dizziness, irrational behavior, dulling of senses; change or distort audio, visual, mental processesInhaling anesthesia for medical or dental purposes$25 to $ 100 fine, up to 90 days in prison, or both
Maryland Drugs, substance, or chemical that contains any specified chemical compoundDeliberately smell or inhale

Distribute or possess with intent to distribute with intent to induce unlawful inhaling or knowledge that substance will be inhaled

Instruct someone in how to inhale

Distribute a butane canister to a minor
Cause intoxication, excitement, exhilaration, stupefaction, or dulling of the brain or nervous systemNo exceptions specifiedUse: Fine up to $ 500, six month in prison, or both

Distribution, Instruction: Fine up to $ 1,000, up to 18 months in prison, or both
Massachusetts Any substance having the property of releasing toxic vaporsIntentionally smell or inhale

Possess, buy, or sell to aid someone to violate law

Sell glue to minor
Cause intoxication, excitement, exhilaration, stupefaction, or dulling of the brain or nervous systemInhaling anesthesia for medical or dental purposesUse, sale, possession with intent to sell: Fine up to $ 200, up to 6 month in prison, or both
Minnesota Glue, cement, or aerosol spray contain specified chemical compounds

Butane lighters

Similar substances health commissioner declares to be toxic to central nervous system and subject to abuse
Use

Intentionally aid someone to use
Induce intoxication, excitement, or stupefaction of central nervous systemUse under a doctor's supervisionFine up to $ 1,000, 90 days in prison, or both
New Hampshire Any substance that can release toxic vaporsPurposely smell or inhale fumesCause intoxication, euphoria, excitement, stupefaction, or dulled sensation of central nervous systemInhaling anesthesia for medical or dental purposesFine up to $ 1,000 or conditional discharge for up to 1 year
New York Glue, cement, or compound containing specified chemical compounds

NO
Intentionally inhale fumes

Use NO

Possess for purpose of using

Sell or offer to sell, knowing product will be used to violate law
Cause intoxication, inebriation, excitement, stupefaction or dulling of brain or nervous systemInhaling anesthesia for medical or dental purposes

Sales for industrial use

Use of NO in industrial, medical, or dental applications
Use or possession: Fine up to $ 50, up to 5 days in jail, or both

Use of NO: Fine of between $ 500 and $ 1,000, up to 1 year in prison, or both

Sale: Fine of between $ 500 and $ 1,000, up to 1 year in prison, or both
North Carolina Compound, liquid, or chemical containing specified chemical compounds
Knowingly inhale

Possess

Sell, offer to sell, possess with intent to sell, deliver
Induce intoxicationUse at direction of medical providerUse or possession: for 1st offense, probation for up to 1 year on condition of participation in drug education program; subsequent offense,

Sale: Up to 6 months in prison
Ohio Any compound or substance whose fumes or vapor when inhaled can induce intoxication, excitement, giddiness, irrational behavior, depression, stupefaction, paralysis, unconsciousness, asphyxiation, or other harmful physiological effects, including: specified product types, aerosols, and anesthesiaObtain, possess, or use

Knowingly dispense or distribute to minor

Knowingly dispense or distribute nitrous oxide to person < 21

Sell a device that permits someone to inhale nitrous oxide
Induce intoxication or similar physiological effectsDispensing NO for medical, dental, or clinical purposes

Products used in making, transporting, or constructing other products for sale

Products used in mining, refining, or processing natural deposits
Obtain, possess, or use: (1) fine up to $ 1,000, up to 180 days in prison or community facility, or both for 1st conviction; (2) fine up $ 2,500, 6 to 12 months in prison, or both for subsequent conviction: (3) suspend driver's license for 6 months to 5 years

Sell nitrous oxide: (1) fine up $ 2,500, 6 to 12 months in prison, or both for 1st conviction; (2) fine up to $ 5,000, 6 to 18 months in prison, or both for subsequent conviction; (3) suspend driver's license for 6 months to 5 years for a subsequent conviction
Oregon Glue, cement or other substance that can cause intoxication and that contains one or more specified chemical compounds
Use or possess either for self or to induce someone else to useInduce intoxicationSubstance prescribed by a health care practitioner or used under practitioner supervisionFine up to $ 300 for 1st violation; Juvenile Court can send minors for treatment and counseling

Fine up to $ 2,500, up to 6 months in prison, or both for subsequent offense; Juvenile court must send minors for treatment and counseling

Driver's license suspension for driving under influence of inhalant
South Dakota Any substance other than alcoholic beverageInhale or ingestBecome intoxicatedSubstances prescribed by healthcare practitionerFine up to $ 2,000, up to 1 year in prison, or both
Tennessee Glue, paint, gasoline, aerosol, or other substance containing a solvent that releases toxic vapors; statute specifies chemical compounds
Intentionally smell or inhale

Sell, offer, deliver, or give
Cause intoxication, inebriation, elation, dizziness, excitement, stupefaction, dizziness, dulling of brain; disturb or distort audio or visual processesInhaling anesthesia for medical or dental purposes

Sale of hobby and model kits containing glue

Use of NO in commercial food and beverage distribution
Use or possession: Fine up to $ 2,500, up to 1 year in prison, or both

Sale or delivery: Fine up to $ 3,000, 1 to 6 years in prison, or both
Texas Chemical, including aerosol paint, in a container labeled “vapor harmful” pursuant to federal law and capable of causing intoxication or hallucination, affecting central nervous system, or distorting eyesight, thinking, or coordination

NO
Inhale, ingest, possess

Knowingly delivers to person < 18

Knowingly uses or possess inhalant paraphernalia

Knowingly manufactures, sells, or delivers inhalant paraphernalia, or possesses it with intent to sell or deliver
Induce intoxication, hallucination, or elation; affect central nervous system, or distort eyesight, thinking, or coordinationPesticides; food, drug, or cosmetic subject to federal law; alcoholic beveragesUse: Fine up to $ 2,000, up to 180 days in prison, or both

Delivery to <18: Fine up to $ 10,000, between 6 months and 2 years in prison, or both

Paraphernalia use: Fine up to $ 2,000, up to 180 days in prison, or both

Paraphernalia manufacture or delivery: Fine up to $ 4,000, up to 1 year in prison, or both
Utah Glue, cement, or other substance containing specified chemical compounds and capable of causing intoxification, elation, euphoria, dizziness, stupefaction, dulling of senses

NO
Possess with intent to inhale

Knowingly and intentionally under the influence

Offer, sell, or provide
Cause intoxification, elation, euphoria, dizziness, stupefaction, dulling of senses or distort auditory, visual, mental processes
Prescribed use, distribution, or sale of substances for medical or dental purposes

Administration of NO for medical, surgical, or dental care by person with a license that authorizes NO administration
Possessing, being under influence, or delivering glue, etc: Fine up to $ 1,000, up to 6 months in prison, or both

Possessing, being under influence, or delivering nitrous oxide: Fine up to $ 2,500, up to 1 year in prison, or both
Vermont Glue or adhesive containing specified chemical compounds

Inhalants containing specified chemical compounds
Intentionally smell or inhale

Possess with intent to use
Cause intoxication, inebriation, excitement, stupefaction, or dulling of the brain or nervous systemInhaling anesthesia for medical or dental purposes
Fine up to $ 25
Virginia Drugs or noxious chemical substances, including fingernail polish and glue, containing specified chemical compounds
 Smell or inhale

Deliberately cause or induce someone to smell or inhale
Become intoxicated, inebriated, excited, or stupefied or dull the brain or nervous systemUse under doctor's directionUse: Fine up to $ 2,500, up to 1 year in jail, or both

Induce use: Fine up to $ 1,000, up to 6 months in jail, or both
Wisconsin Hazardous substances, including household products, that can cause illness or injury to someone who abuses them

NO
Intentionally abuse

Possess with intent to abuse

Distribute or possess with intent to distribute, knowing substance or nitrous oxide will be abused

Distribute nitrous oxide to someone <21 or possess with intent to distribute
 Not specifiedRetail sales to food service establishments

Retail sale to or purchase by hospitals, clinics, and other health care organizations that use NO
Use or possess: Fine up to $ 10,000, up to 9 months in prison, or both

Distribute NO: Fine up to $ 10,000, up to 6 years in prison, or both

Distribute hazardous substance: Fine up to $ 10,000, up to 3. 5 years in prison, or both


Source: NCSL, Youth Use of Inhalants and Aerosols - State Laws, 2007
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