SAN JOSE (KRON) – Santa Clara County officials are studying how to regulate the sale of nitrous oxide, commonly known as “whip-its.”

Cindy Chavez, who represents central, east and south San Jose on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, proposed that the county consider which ways would be best to regulate the nitrous oxide, which is sometimes used recreationally to provide a short burst of euphoria.

“County staff and the County Counsel’s office are scheduled to report back to the board on March 22 with options for regulating the sale and availability of nitrous oxide in the county’s jurisdiction,” a news release states.

Nitrous oxide is legal to possess but its recreational use is actually a misdemeanor in California, punishable by up to six months in jail. Despite this, canisters of the gas can often be found at smoke shops. It is also called “Noz” or “N20.”

Chavez stated there’s “no legitimate reason for smoke shops or vape shops to be selling handfuls of them to customers.”

“Because of a loophole in state law, it is far too easy for residents of Santa Clara County to purchase nitrous oxide canisters and then abuse them as recreational drugs,” she stated.

The news release alleges that using “whip-its” can be addictive.

“Recreational use has been linked to deaths in the U.S. as far back as the 1990s,” the news release states. “More recently, it was connected to the 2020 death of Zappos founder and venture capitalist Tony Hsieh.”

Hsieh died of smoke inhalation in a death that was ruled an accident after a fire of unknown cause burned down the shed he was in. Among the items found there were nitrous oxide cartridges.