MODESTO (CBS13) – A Modesto man is suing three local smoke shops after he says he got seriously ill from inhaling nitrous oxide he purchased from the stores.

Jason Starn claims he didn’t know the nitrous oxide, commonly known as the drug “Whip-Its,” was dangerous.

“It looked so dire at one point that we had to send out for clergy,” Starn said in a recorded interview with his lawyer.

Starn says he barely survived. Now he uses a walker, and at times even has trouble speaking. He says it’s all because he inhaled nitrous oxide.

“I’ve had nitrous oxide many times at the dentist’s office,” Starn said.

Starn thought the nitrous oxide was safe. He is suing three Modesto smoke shops, the places he bought the recreational drug, claiming they didn’t warn him about the danger.

“The only interaction we had was which ones were the cheapest and which ones had more pure nitrous,” Starn said in the recorded interview.

Starn’s attorney, Deborah Barron, provided CBS13 with the interview she recorded with him, saying he didn’t feel well enough to go on camera with CBS13.

Barron says the civil lawsuit is the first of its kind in California, claiming improper warnings on packaging for nitrous oxide and other designer drugs. She says the suit isn’t about money.

“He wants the world to know that these so-called harmless “Whip-Its” are very dangerous,” said Barron.

CBS13’s Ben Sosenko purchased a box of “Whip-Its,” and says the box was clearly marked, stating “do not inhale,” and “danger to health.”

But Barron says the warnings aren’t big enough.

“There’s no manufacturer information on the box; the warnings are inadequate,” she said.

CBS13 reached out to the smoke shops, but none would comment on the story.

One Sacramento store clerk said they are careful about how they sell the “Whip-Its,” saying they are only for whipped cream.
If a customer asks how to use them to get high, the store won’t sell it.


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