Atlanta neighbors frustrated with use of nitrous oxide outside Widespread Panic show

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) — Midtown neighbors are frustrated by the use of nitrous oxide outside of Widespread Panic’s concerts at the Fox Theater.

“It turns into absolute debauchery for two, four and five days at a time,” said Deford Smith, who lives near the Fox Theater.

Smith said a select group of fans use nitrous oxide outside the theater, leaving trash and balloons behind.

“People might be inhaling gallon-sized balloons of gasoline, passing out on the street, and leaving the balloons all over the place like trash,” Smith said in an interview with CSB46 on Friday.

“I realize it’s a city, but it’s still a community where people live and work, and it’s not right to trash a community,” Smith said.

Neighbors told CBS46 they witnessed an active sale of these balloons and other drugs outside the site.

“They say very clearly what they’re selling because they’ll shout in public, they’ll shout birthday, they’ll shout hippie crack. It’s the street name for nitrous oxide,” Smith said.

Smith said he contacted the Atlanta Police Department to resolve this annual issue.

A department spokesperson told CBS46 News that they have not received any official reports regarding this issue, but are now seeking more video evidence.

According to the 2020 Georgia Code, it is illegal to sell nitrous oxide, outside of professional medical purposes.

If convicted, someone can face a fine of up to $5,000 or jail time.

An online search shows that this issue has followed the Widespread Panic group across the country.

We have seen reports dating back to 2011 of communities being disrupted by the use of nitrous oxide.

Widespread Panic manager Buck Williams told CBS46 News they were aware of this activity from a small group of fans.

Williams said in other cities they have tried to work with local agencies to address the issue of nitrous oxide use.

“It’s not something we like or endorse, but we understand it’s out there. We can not do anything.

Williams said many users aren’t usually necessarily fans, but just know that it’s often available outside of Widespread Panic’s broadcasts.

CBS46 has contacted the Fox Theater about this issue, but we have not received a response.


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