Press Release

Welch’s Bipartisan Bill to Combat New Street Drug Tranq Passes Senate

Jun 22, 2023

WASHINGTON—Senator Peter Welch’s (D-VT) bipartisan bill, the Testing, Rapid Analysis, and Narcotic Quality (TRANQ) Research Act, passed the United States Senate today with unanimous support. The bill, co-led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), will direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to support research and other activities related to identifying xylazine, novel synthetic opioids, and other emerging substances that have become increasingly common in the illicit drug supply in Vermont and across the country. 

“The drug supply in Vermont and across the country has become more potent and less predictable, and it’s worsening an already brutal overdose crisis,” said Sen. Welch. “This bill will support vital research to combat new substances in the drug supply and help confront the overdose crisis head-on. I’m proud to join with Sen. Cruz to pass this important, bipartisan legislation.”   

“I am pleased that the Senate has passed this common sense, bipartisan legislation to improve our ability to detect a truly horrifying drug that is killing Texans. Since Tranq is not an opioid it poses a unique threat, rendering medications commonly used to reverse opioid overdoses completely ineffective. I am grateful to Senator Welch for working with me to ensure our law enforcement and those on the frontlines of the drug crisis have access to reliable data and research that will help us combat this deadly substance,” said Sen. Cruz

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 xylazine and other novel synthetic drugs, with the aim of developing new tests for rapid detection and establishing partnerships with frontline entities that are often the first points of contact with new street drugs. 

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, with many jurisdictions not yet testing for xylazine. 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.