Monday, February 26, 2007

1. New statute Broadens definition of "toxic chemical"

Drug statutes to include nitrous oxide and other substances.
Governor Jon S. Corzine today took action on the following legislation. S-1280/A-3083 (Bryant/Fisher, Burzichelli) - This bill strengthens the prohibition on inhalation abuse, known as "huffing," by broadening the definition of "toxic chemical" in N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.4.
Under current law, it is a disorderly persons offense to inhale the fumes of any toxic chemical for the purpose of causing a condition of intoxication or to possess any toxic chemical for the purpose of causing a condition of intoxication. A disorderly persons offense is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to $1,000 or both.
The bill defines "toxic chemical" as "any chemical or substance having the property of releasing toxic fumes," and provides that the term "toxic chemical" includes but is not limited to nitrous oxide, and any glue, cement, adhesive, paint remover or other substance containing a chemical capable of releasing vapors or fumes causing a condition of intoxication, inebriation, excitement, stupefaction, or dulling of the brain or nervous system.
The bill specifically provides that it does not apply to the lawful possession and use of nitrous oxide for the purpose of medical, surgical, or dental care by a person duly licensed to administer nitrous oxide, or to the lawful sale of nitrous oxide for non medical use.
The bill amends N.J.S.A. 2C:36-1 through N.J.S.A. 2C:36-3, the drug paraphernalia statutes, to include objects commonly associated with inhalation abuse, such as the following: compressed gas containers, such as tanks, cartridges or canisters, that contain food grade or pharmaceutical grade nitrous oxide as a principal ingredient; chargers or charging bottles, meaning metal, ceramic or plastic devices that contain an interior pin that may be used to expel compressed gas from a cartridge or canister; and tubes, balloons, bags, fabrics, bottles or other containers used to concentrate or hold in suspension a toxic chemical or the fumes of a toxic chemical. Use or possession of a toxic chemical under N.J.S. 2C:36-2 would be a disorderly persons offense. Distributing, dispensing or possessing with intent to distribute or manufacture a toxic chemical under N.J.S. 2C:36-3 would be a crime of the fourth degree punishable by a term of imprisonment not to exceed 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000 or both.