US House passes bill targeting dangerous street drug ‘tranq’

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – A bipartisan bill, introduced by U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), which aims to combat the increasingly prevalent street drug, xylazine, is headed to President Joe Biden’s desk. 

Xylazine, commonly referred to as “tranq,” is a non-opiate sedative authorized in the U.S. only for veterinary use. The Northeast has seen the worst impact of the drug, but it has been detected in all regions of the U.S., according to reports.

One study of 10 U.S. cities found that while in 2015, xylazine was detected in only 1% of overdose deaths, in 2020, almost 7% of overdose deaths involved the substance. Further, in Maryland, between 2021 and 2022, researchers detected xylazine in 80% of drug samples that contained opioids, according to the CDC. 

“Our common sense, bipartisan legislation will help law enforcement better detect a deadly drug that is destroying lives in my home state of Texas. I am grateful to Senator Welch for working with me to help give the frontlines of the tranq drug crisis access to reliable data and research, and I look forward to our Cruz-Welch legislation being swiftly signed into law.”

Little medical research has been conducted on the effects of xylazine on the human body, but anecdotal reports describe it producing opioid-like highs. People who inject xylazine frequently are at risk of developing severe, necrotic skin alterations that can result in amputations, according to the FDA.

Cruz and Welch authored the bill to enhance understanding of the substance and develop better testing measures before the substance becomes even more widespread. 

“This is legislation that is common sense. Let’s get ready [and] hopefully, this will not become widely prevalent,” Cruz told KXAN in April. “We need to be smart on the front end, to know how to detect it, and know how to step in and intervene to try to save people’s lives.” 

The U.S. Senate passed the TRANQ bill in June, and the House of Representatives moved the legislation forward Monday.

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