Press Release

President Biden Signs Sen. Welch’s Bipartisan TRANQ Research Act Into Law

Dec 19, 2023

Legislation Provides Communities with Federal Resources to Research and Develop New Tests, Establish Partnerships to Combat Rise in Xylazine

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, President Joe Biden signed Senator Peter Welch’s (D-Vt.) bipartisan bill, the Testing, Rapid Analysis, and Narcotic Quality (TRANQ) Research Act, into law. 

The Testing, Rapid Analysis, and Narcotic Quality (TRANQ) Research Act takes steps to address the deadly rise in the illicit use of Xylazine – a harmful animal tranquilizer also known by its street name Tranq – and other novel synthetic drugs that have become increasingly prevalent in Vermont and across the country. The legislation directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to research the drug, develop new tests for rapid detection, and establish partnerships with the frontline entities that are often the first points of contact with new street drugs.  

The bill, which was co-led in the Senate by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) passed out of both chambers of Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support. The TRANQ Research Act was sponsored in the House of Representatives by Rep. Mike Collins (R-Ga.) and Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-Colo.). 

“In my first week as Vermont’s new Senator, I came home to talk about the opioid and drug epidemic, and it couldn’t have been clearer: the drug supply in Vermont has changed and it’s making an already brutal overdose crisis even more challenging to combat. Our communities needed federal resources to deal with Xylazine, and they needed it now. So, we got to work–and we did it in a bipartisan way,” said Sen. Welch. “I thank President Biden for signing this important bill into law, and for his continued efforts to combat the overdose crisis in communities in Vermont and across America.”  

Xylazine, an animal tranquilizer, has spread rapidly throughout the country’s illicit drug supply, often combined with fentanyl. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) found skyrocketing detection rates of Xylazine in the Northeast region of the U.S. between 2020 and 2021, including a 61% increase, even with the limited testing available. Many jurisdictions have limited testing available for Xylazine detection.  

In Vermont, Xylazine was reported present in 50% of opioid-related accidental and undetermined deaths in August of 2023. With overdose deaths increasing for the third consecutive year in the state, Vermont’s community of recovery professionals need additional support and resources to understand, treat, and prevent the use of fentanyl, Xylazine, and other dangerous illicit drugs. The Burlington Free Press put the spotlight on Tranq and Sen. Welch’s bill in their September 2023 piece: ‘It came out of nowhere’: Xylazine makes Vermont street drugs more dangerous and deadly.