These grotesque effects have raised alarm bells for Congress, prompting a handful of Senators to introduce a new bill, the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act, that would crack down on the drug, classifying it as Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act.
The bill comes as xylazine use has proliferated while the U.S. is still left reeling from an ongoing opioid abuse epidemic. In 2022, 23% of seized fentanyl powder and 7% of pills contained xylazine, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The agency has now seized xylazine and fentanyl mixtures in 48 of 50 States.
“Xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced, fentanyl, even deadlier,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a recent statement.
The new bill was introduced by U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).
“Drug traffickers are going to great lengths to pad their profits with dangerous drugs like tranq, and we need to empower law enforcement to crack down on its spread in our communities,” Sen. Masto said in a statement. “This bipartisan legislation will ensure the DEA and local law enforcement have the tools they need to get xylazine off our streets while protecting its important use as a veterinary tranquilizer.”
The bill takes several actions, including:
- Classifying its illicit use under Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act.
- Enabling the DEA to track its manufacturing to ensure it is not diverted to the illicit market.
- Requiring a report on prevalence, risks and recommendations to best regulate illicit use of xylazine.
- Ensuring all salts and isomers of xylazine are covered when restricting its illicit use.
- Declaring xylazine an emerging drug threat.