U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) have introduced new legislation to help combat the rise in illicit use of the dangerous animal tranquilizer Xylazine, or Tranq.
The Testing, Rapid Analysis, and Narcotic Quality (TRANQ) Research Act directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology to take steps to enhance understanding of Tranq and other novel synthetic drugs, develop new tests for detection, and establish partnerships with front-line entities that are often the first points of contact with new street drugs.
Xylazine, which has been nicknamed “Tranq,” is a powerful sedative used by veterinarians. Although the tranquilizer is often combined with other drugs like fentanyl and Xanax, it is not an opioid, and so it cannot be reversed with Narcan. Its use has spread across the country, including in Texas and Vermont.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports skyrocketing detections of xylazine, with growth between 2020 and 2021 of 198% in the South, 112% in the West, 61% in the Northeast, and 7% in the Midwest. According to the DEA, “the presence of xylazine in illicit drug combinations and its detection in fatal overdoses may be more widespread than reported as a number of jurisdictions across the country may not include xylazine in forensic laboratory or toxicology testing.” Tranq, also known as the “zombie drug” has gruesome side effects, causing large wounds that will not heal, and is resistant to standard opioid overdose treatments.
Texas law enforcement officials have recently detected this drug in illicit fentanyl supplies, and it has led to several deaths in the state.
Rep. Mike Collins (R-GA) and Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-CO) have introduced bipartisan companion legislation (H.R. 1734) to the TRANQ Research Act in the House of Representatives.
On April 12, the Office of National Drug Control Policy declared fentanyl-adulterated or -associated xylazine an “emerging threat” to the country, the first time in history a substance formally received this declaration.
Upon introducing the TRANQ Act, Sen. Cruz said: “The scourge of the drug epidemic continues to ravage communities in Texas and across the country. To protect our citizens, we must work swiftly to prevent deadly new drugs like tranq and the truly horrifying side effects that come with it from taking hold. I am proud to work on a bipartisan basis with Senator Welch to improve our knowledge of these devastating drugs so we can aid those on the frontline of this battle.”
Sen. Welch said: “The rise in use of Tranq and other synthetic drugs has had a devastating impact on communities in Vermont and across the U.S. We need to address this crisis now, but we can’t do that without better information,” said Sen. Welch. “I’m proud to join Sen. Cruz on this bipartisan bill to enhance our understanding of Tranq and other street drugs. With better information, we can get resources directly to those working on the frontlines and combat the rise of these dangerous new drugs.”
The Texas Municipal Police Association added: “The drug epidemic is not just a Texas problem – it’s a national problem. As new drugs find their way onto the street, law enforcement must have the tools at their disposal to address the latest crisis. Senator Ted Cruz’s TRANQ Act would provide us with the resources we need to combat the distribution of Tranq, and save the lives of vulnerable Texans.”
Read the full text of the bill at the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation