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Whitmer signs bill aimed at curbing the abuse of whippets in Michigan

Posted at 6:47 AM, Mar 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-14 06:56:34-04

Nitrous oxide cartridges and canisters like the ones seen in the Clinton Township explosion have become a point of contention in metro Detroit communities.

Also known as "whippets," the canisters are not only dangers, but they're littering neighborhoods.

This week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took action, signing a new law aimed at curbing the problem. One neighborhood particularly affected in Southwest Detroit. They've been dealing with it for years.

Brandi Watts, the vice president of programs and compliance for the Southwest Detroit Business Association, said they knew they had to take action.

Watts said in recent years, the whippet cartridges have littered the streets and parks.

"At first it came as a community and business concern, but I have children, so once I was educated about what these were, it affected me personally," Watts said.

The canisters are filled with nitrous oxide. They're easily available at gas stations, liquor stores and smoke shops.

"It is slowly killing our neighborhoods. Our children, our middle-age children, not only that, but all ages are using this," Goya Diaz with the Detroit Hispanic Development Center, said. "We've been working really, really hard to make a change in our community.

Diaz and Watts both advocated for new legislation to crack down on nitrous oxide abuse. This week, Whitmer signed two bills that ban the sale of objects used to open the canisters.

"We have to stay the charge. This legislation is great and it's a step in the direction that we need, but there's so much work that needs to be done," Watts said.

Retailers have until June before enforcement begins and store owners could face a fine up to $7,500.