Press Release

Sens. Welch, Cruz Introduce Bipartisan Bill Targeting New Street Drug Tranq

Apr 26, 2023

Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced new legislation today to combat the rise in illicit use of the animal tranquilizer Xylazine, also known as Tranq. The Testing, Rapid Analysis, and Narcotic Quality (TRANQ) Research Act directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 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. 

“The rise in use of Tranq and other synthetic drugs has had a devastating impact on communities in Vermont and across America. We need to address this crisis now, but we can’t do that without better information,” said Sen. Welch. “Folks across our communities—from nurses and physicians to mental health professionals and law enforcement—are on the frontlines of this crisis. With better information on Tranq we can direct resources to the people doing the important work to combat the rise of this dangerous new drug and help our communities. I’m proud to join Sen. Cruz on this bipartisan bill.”  

“The scourge of the drug epidemic continues to ravage communities in Texas and across the country,” said Sen. Cruz. “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.” 

Xylazine is a powerful sedative used by veterinarians. Although the tranquilizer is often combined with opioids like fentanyl, it is not an opioid, and so cannot be reversed with Narcan and may reduce its efficacy. Tranq also has gruesome side effects, causing large wounds that will not heal.  

Xylazine use has spread rapidly throughout the country. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports skyrocketing detections of xylazine, with growth between 2020 and 2021 of 61% in the Northeast, 198% in the South, 112% in the West, and 7% in the Midwest. In Vermont, xylazine was reported present in almost 30% of opioid—related accidental and undetermined deaths With overdose deaths increasing for 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.   

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.”  

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.  

The bill text is available HERE.