Culpeper Star-Exponent: Spanberger backs measure combating fentanyl drug cocktail, ‘tranq’

Apr 20, 2023
In the News

CULPEPER STAR-EXPONENT

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, is backing a bipartisan measure to crack down on “tranq,” xylazine-adulterated fentanyl contributing to fatal overdoses across the country.

Rappahannock Rapidan Health District notified local residents the DEA recently declared the drug cocktail an emergent threat to public health.

“The Combating Illicit Xylazine Act” would address the abuse of xylazine by empowering law enforcement to go after distributors and manufacturers, and classify illicit use of the veterinary tranquilizer as a Schedule III substance.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, 23% of fentanyl powder examined in 2022 contained xylazine, an easily accessible and cheap cutting agent.

“Fatal drug overdoses remain the leading cause of unnatural death in Virginia,” Spanberger said in a statement.

“That’s why we need to remain vigilant about new substances that could exacerbate fentanyl’s effects and take the lives of our fellow Virginians. And right now, I’m hearing concerns about the zombie drug “tranq” from Virginia law enforcement officials, community leaders and recovery advocates.”

The cosponsored bill would empower the DEA to track xylazine manufacturing to prevent it from making it to the illicit market; require a report on prevalence, risks and recommendations to best regulate illicit use; ensure all salts and isomers of xylazine are covered when restricting illicit use; and declare xylazine an emerging drug threat, which has already been done.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t seen the worst wave of death that this powerful and highly addictive drug can bring,” said Spanberger.

“As a former federal agent and CIA case officer who worked narcotics cases and tracked dangerous cartels, I recognize how tranq presents a unique threat to our communities. This bipartisan bill would give law enforcement at all levels more tools in their toolbox to penalize drug traffickers, protect our Virginia communities, and prevent more overdose deaths.”

Legislation sponsors are U.S. Reps. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), August Pfluger (R-TX), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Ken Buck (R-CO), and Chris Pappas (D-NH). In the U.S. Senate, a companion bill is led by U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

Xylazine can cause depressed breathing and heart rate, unconsciousness, necrosis and even death. Because it is not an opioid, naloxone does not reverse the effects. There are currently no xylazine reversal drugs approved for humans.

Because Xylazine is not a scheduled narcotic, it is easily purchased online for as little as $6 to $20 per kilogram, according to the DEA.

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