Commerce Committee Approves Sen. Cruz’s Bipartisan Bill Targeting Deadly New Street Drug Tranq
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) praised the Committee’s passage of his bipartisan 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, which Sen. Cruz introduced with Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), 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.
Prior to the Commerce Committee voting on the bill, Sen. Cruz said:
“The drug epidemic continues to ravage communities in Texas and across the country, and to protect our citizens, we need to work swiftly to prevent deadly new drugs like tranq and the truly horrifying side effects that come with it. This bill would improve our knowledge of these devastating drugs so that law enforcement and others on the front line of this battle have better information about when tranq shows up in a community.”
Sen. Welch said, following the Commerce Committee vote:
“Tranq and other novel synthetic drugs are increasingly responsible for overdoses in communities across the United States. The TRANQ Research Act will strengthen our tools for detecting xylazine and other new substances in the drug supply that are worsening this already brutal overdose crisis. I’m glad to see this practical, bipartisan legislation advance out of Committee and take one more step towards final passage.”
The Texas Municipal Police Association has said about the bill:
“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.”
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-Colo.) 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.
Read the bill here.