‘They were warned’: Shopkeeper charged over bulk ‘nang’ sale
A CAIRNS CBD shopkeeper who allegedly sold 17 boxes of 'nangs' to a drunk man who was caught on camera chroming in the street has been charged.
The small canisters of nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, have legitimate purposes in both medicine and baking, but have rapidly become a popular illicit drug of choice for getting high despite health risks.
Police said they have also made several attempts to "educate" CBD businesses where the canisters could be sold, about their dangers.
But late last month they took the step to charge a worker at the Night Owl on Shields St after he allegedly sold seven boxes, then a further 10 boxes, to the same intoxicated man within half an hour late at night.
Each box contains 10 'nangs'.
Police will allege the 24-year-old employee was seen on the store's CCTV selling the boxes from behind the counter in multiple separate transactions.
The 21-year-old customer initially entered the store about 9.30pm on August 26, a short time after urinating on a police car, and purchased seven boxes containing 70 canisters, police allege.
Further CCTV footage from the CitySafe network allegedly showed him sitting on the kerb on Grafton St investing the gas before police approached and seized the bag.
He allegedly returned to the store a short time later and purchased a further 10 boxes - or 100 canisters.
The incident occurred just days after a separate 'door-to-door delivery service' for the whipped-cream chargers was meant to begin in Cairns before being quietly shut down.
Cairns City Beat Acting Sen-Sgt Shawn Pipia said the alleged incident was frustrating given their attempts to speak with businesses.
Stores have been issued with leaflets and asked to keep the items behind the counter, check customer's ID and ask them their reason for purchase.
"We have made several efforts to educate CBD businesses about volatile substance misuse," he said.
"That's why it is so disappointing to see this alleged behaviour.
"These canisters have the potential to cause serious health issues."
The shopkeeper has been charged with two counts of sale of potentially harmful things and is due to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court on December 14.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of three months jail.
The customer is facing two counts of public urination and one count of contravening a direction and is scheduled to appear on November 11.
The Cairns Anti-social and Public Space (CAPS) Team arrested the shopkeeper, while the Far North District Liquor Unit has spearheaded the CBD education program.
Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service executive director of medical services Dr Don Mackie warned of the health dangers around 'nang' use.
"These include acute loss of blood pressure and loss of consciousness. Users are at risk of oxygen deprivation which can result in death," he said.
"Prolonged exposure to nitrous oxide may also result in memory loss, brain and nerve damage, incontinence, a weakened immune system, psychosis, and even potential birth defects if a woman consumes the substance during pregnancy."
Originally published as 'They were warned': Shopkeeper charged over bulk 'nang' sale