Home ‘Addressing the fentanyl crisis’: Lawmakers introduce legislation to stop powerful sedative ‘tranq’

‘Addressing the fentanyl crisis’: Lawmakers introduce legislation to stop powerful sedative ‘tranq’

opioid crisis
Photo Credit: Robert Wilson

The Strengthening Tracking Of Poisonous Tranq Requiring Analyzed National Quantification (STOP TRANQ) Act would add a statutory requirement for the State Department to include reporting on xylazine, or “tranq,” in its annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR).

INCSR is a country-by-country report that tracks efforts to counter all aspects of the international drug trade. The report tracks fentanyl and other well-known illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin and also covers the illicit trafficking of more common pharmaceuticals with abuse risk, such as pseudoepinephrine (Sudafed). Requiring the State Department to actively report on this emerging threat would ensure that the United States is better prepared to counter and respond to trends in the international drug trade contributing to America’s drug crisis.

U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Ted Cruz of Texas, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, filed the legislation today.

“I’m fully committed to addressing the fentanyl crisis, and we should use all tools at our disposal to do so. I’m glad my bipartisan legislation to bolster DOD’s role in countering fentanyl trafficking was signed into law by President Biden last year. But there’s more work to do to keep Americans safe, including protecting our communities from xylazine, which is often mixed with fentanyl to create a more deadly drug. I’m glad to partner with Senator Cruz on this bipartisan bill. It is a commonsense step to address the threat posed by xylazine, and I urge my colleagues to join us in getting it across the finish line,” Kaine said.

According to Cruz, tranq is claiming lives in Texas and across the U.S.

“I was proud to collaborate with Senator Welch to pass the TRANQ Research Act into law last year to combat the threat of this deadly street drug, and I am grateful to Senator Kaine for joining me in committing our State Department resources to fighting the harrowing drug crisis plaguing our nation. The U.S. must use all its counternarcotics tools to combat the threat posed by tranq, especially given its alarming presence in America’s fentanyl drug crisis. This means mobilizing our resources at the State Department, like the INCSR report, to hold other countries accountable for their role in producing, selling, and moving tranq into the U.S.,” Cruz said.

The legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Bill Hagerty of Tennessee.

Tranq is a powerful sedative increasingly used as an additive to fentanyl. The effects are devastating, causing “necrotic” skin alterations and resulting in more than 3,000 overdose deaths in 2021. Tranq has especially affected the American South, which saw a 200 percent increase in the drug’s presence from 2020 to 2021 — the largest increase in the country. Because xylazine is not an opioid, Narcan is not effective in reversing its effects and fentanyl-mixed xylazine is even more dangerous. The White House designated fentanyl-mixed xylazine as an “emerging threat” early last year and released a National Response Plan in an attempt to address this growing problem.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.