Culture Wars/Current Controversies

New Yorkers Under 21 Can’t Buy Whipped Cream Cans

New York state enacts one of the most bizarre laws of the drug war.


As a baby-faced 22-year-old, I know I can expect to get carded every time I enter a bar or try to buy alcohol at the grocery store. Even when my similarly-aged friends aren’t stopped by the bouncer or the waitress at brunch, I’ll have to dig through my purse and fork over my driver’s license, watching it get examined for the umpteenth time.

I can now expect the same rigmarole if I try to buy a can of whipped cream in New York.

Why is there an age limit for purchasing a dessert topping? Because the cans, also known as whippets, contain nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, so you can use them to get a brief high. And this prompted New York’s State Assembly to pass one of the strangest bills of the drug war.

Since November 2021, it has been illegal for anyone under 21 to buy a canister of whipped cream in New York—though the law was little-known until a photo from an Albany convenience store alerting customers to the policy change started spreading online last week. Selling whipped cream canisters to anyone under 21 is a civil offense in the state, earning offenders a $250 fee for the first offense and a $500 fee for every subsequent offense.

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