Newsom announces plan to crack down on deadly street drug known as ‘tranq’

(Associated Press)

Newsom announces plan to crack down on deadly street drug known as ‘tranq’

California politics, homepage news

Anabel Sosa

November 29, 2023

Amid a growing drug overdose crisis and a debate over how the state should respond, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that he will support legislation to increase penalties for trafficking in xylazine, the deadly and meat-

rotting food

animal tranquilizer drug known as ‘tranq’.

Newsom administration officials provided few details about what the bill might entail, other than saying it would classify xylazine as a controlled substance and increase criminal penalties for illegal trafficking of the drug. Veterinary use would still be permitted.

Tranq poses a unique and devastating challenge in our fight against the overdose epidemic,” Newsom said in a statement. “While California is not yet experiencing tranq to the same extent as other parts of the country, this legislation will help the state stay ahead of the curve and clamp down on dealers and traffickers as we work to provide treatment and resources to those struggling with addiction and substance abuse.

Xylazine is a non-opiate sedative and muscle relaxant approved for veterinary use only, but the drug can be mixed with fentanyl and is increasingly being found in a growing number of overdose deaths in California and across the country. Like fentanyl, xylazine is addictive and potentially fatal, and can also cause painful sores on the skin.

Newsom rarely sponsors bills but said the action is necessary to address the growing drug epidemic that has contributed to thousands of deaths in California each year. Between January and August, there were 19 accidental overdose deaths involving xylazine in San Francisco alone


according to overdose data published by the city.

Civil liberties groups have successfully thwarted similar measures against fentanyl in recent years, arguing that increased criminal penalties for dealers would only lead to a revival of the failed war on drugs and ultimately refill prisons.

“While we understand that this legislation should target those who ‘traffick’ the drug xylazine, we have seen throughout history that these laws often result in low-level criminalization of dealers and users,” said Jeronimo Aguilar , policy analyst at Legal Services. Prisoners with Children said this in a statement.

Newsom’s proposal did not include details on how drug trafficking would be addressed.

“The Governor and his staff are working closely with the Legislature and stakeholders to refine what penalties should look like to prevent the illegal use of narcotics. [California]said Brandon Richards, a spokesman for Newsom. “We will have more to share as those conversations progress and the legislative session gets underway.”

Newsom has signed several fentanyl bills into law this year. Other bills, including measures backed by Republicans and moderate Democrats calling for tougher penalties for drug trafficking, failed to pass the Legislature.

“I wish this happened a while ago when we were pushing legislation regarding fentanyl,” Assemblymember Joe Patterson (R-Rocklin) told The Times. “Nevertheless, it is a positive thing to see progress in mixing another drug with fentanyl and killing our children and adults.”

Patterson sits on the Select Committee on Fentanyl, Opioid Addiction, and Overdose Prevention and made his own attempt at fentanyl legislation last year, but did not get enough votes in the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

Senator Tom Umberg (D-Orange)


said he is “pleased” with the governor’s announcement. Umberg sponsored his own fentanyl bill last year, but it was voted down by his fellow lawmakers.

Umberg said that while he is focused on fentanyl, he also supports comprehensive legislation that takes into account preventive treatments in addition to law enforcement.

Newsom’s office also announced that the California Department of Public Health had sent a letter notifying facilities and physicians of the rise of xylazine and what actions they should take to protect patients. The California State Board of Pharmacy and the California Veterinary Medical Board have warned practitioners about the drug’s dangers.


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