State House

‘The New Fentanyl’: South Carolina Lawmakers Seek To Criminalize Xylazine

“The deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced …”

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Legislation targeting a non-opioid, flesh-eating “zombie drug” is advancing through the South Carolina House of Representatives with bipartisan support. The question now is whether or not the the proposed bill is too little, too late.

Xylazine, also known as “tranq” or “tranq dope,” is an uncontrolled substance approved only for veterinary use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While the powerful sedative has been abused by humans since at least 1979, it appears as though authorities did not react until overdoses skyrocketed in 2019

American journalists have since uncovered a plethora of medical research published by Puerto Rican academics detailing an identical crisis within their unincorporated territory. As fate would have it, the anestesia de caballo (“horse anesthetic”) ravaged their island in the early 2000s and remains a problem to this day.

“While the precise reasons why xylazine emerged in the island’s drug market are still unknown, it is argued that the same motivating factors could also occur in other markets, including those in the continental United States and create an equally problematic public health issue,” Rafael A. Torruella, PhD, wrote in a dissertation … from 2011.

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AN AMERICAN TRAVESTY …

Screenshots from an online retailer offering up to 1,100 pounds of xylazine per purchase
(Andrew Fancher/FITSNews)

Xylazine — produced by German pharmaceutical company Bayer AG — is widely available in liquid form and typically sold through injectable vials or preloaded syringes. The “drug” is legitimately offered through pharmaceutical distribution websites catering to veterinarians (as seen here and here and here).

The drug is also readily available in powdered form and sold through Chinese suppliers with no association to veterinarians, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — and confirmed by FITSNews (as seen here and here and here).

With prices ranging online from $6$60 per kilogram, the powder evidently serves as a cheaper “cut” for illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin as well as counterfeit pills including opioids (e.g., Percocet), benzodiazepines (Xanax) and stimulants (Adderall).

It supposedly enhances the potency of these drugs, as well.

However, those who overdose on the drug — or drug cocktails containing it — are in dire straits as naloxone nasal spray (Narcan) is ineffective against xylazine as it is not an opioid.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fatal overdoses involving xylazine jumped from 2.9 percent in January 2019 to 10.9 percent in June 2022 – a 276 percent increase. The same agency reported 107,735 American fatalities between August 2021 and August 2022, with 66 percent of those deaths linked to fentanyl mixtures.

Within the same timeframe, the DEA reported a 1,127 percent increase in “xylazine-positive” overdose deaths across the southern states alone. In South Carolina, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) reported a 379 percent increase in xylazine-positive deaths.

On April 12, 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration — or White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) specifically — designated the not-so-newfound issue of xylazine as an “emerging threat to the United States.”

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THE PALMETTO STATE’S RESPONSE …

Xylazine in licit, liquid form
(Andrew Fancher/FITSNews)

On Tuesday (January 9, 2024), members of the S.C. House of Representatives medical, military and municipal affairs (3M) committee advanced H.4617, a bill seeking to classify xylazine as a schedule III controlled substance … with exceptions. 

The bill — which seeks to categorize xylazine alongside narcotics like codeine and ketamine — contains a veterinary use exemption, according to the S.C. Association of Veterinarians (SCAV) and reiterated by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

“Our goal is to treat xylazine like any other illicit drug,” said Mark Keel, Chief of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) during Tuesday’s subcommittee meeting. “Xylazine is pouring into the United States, and South Carolina, at a never-before-seen rate. It’s being mixed with other drugs with deadly consequences.”

If signed into law, illicit possession of xylazine could result in six months imprisonment and a $1,000 fine for first-time offenders. If found guilty of trafficking or intent to distribute, fines and imprisonment could increase by more than fifteen-fold.

“Right now, since the drug is not scheduled, law enforcement has no way to hold people accountable for providing illicit or diverted xylazine,” Keel added in a written statement. “SLED is working with the General Assembly to ensure public safety is the top priority and is confident a solution will be reached during this legislative session.”

Within hours of state representatives introducing H.4617 last legislative session, New York became the second and only other state to introduce a bill (S.7763) seeking to criminalize xylazine with an exception for veterinary practices.

Count on FITSNews for continued coverage of the ‘xylazine bill’ as it advances through the legislative process this session.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Andrew Fancher (Travis Bell)

Andrew Fancher is a Lone Star Emmy award-winning journalist from Dallas, Texas. Cut from a bloodline of outlaws and lawmen alike, he was the first of his family to graduate college which was accomplished with honors. Got a story idea or news tip for Andy? Email him directly and connect with him socially across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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4 comments

This Is Sure To Work January 10, 2024 at 8:59 pm

Because the sixty-plus year “War On Drugs” has been such an outstanding success, as was Prohibition before it!

Reply
Joseph Jeter Top fan January 11, 2024 at 6:09 am

Nothing like a government “War on {insert cause}” to make things worse. Just like the war on poverty.

Maybe we should declare war on decreasing the size and scope of government so that would actually happen.

Reply
Jeff Mattox Top fan January 11, 2024 at 7:44 am

I find the term “xylazine-positive” interesting. What exactly does that mean?
I am also reminded of a quote from an American classic film where Mr. Gump says “stupid is as stupid does” and that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome is insanity. Prohibition as a means of social engineering has never worked yet when it comes to the “thick blue line” they are always there shouting for more insanity.
The fact LE cannot see the clear history of their failed policies and the disastrous cost in both blood and treasure is very telling. Either they are ignorant or it is more about power and job security than “safety and security”.
Truth be known it is the polices of prohibition that have brought about the vast majority of these drug problems we have today.
Chief Keel will always think beatings will cure all ills. Look what he did to the Hemp farmer as a prime example of his insanity and danger to the public at large.

Reply
This Is Sure To Work January 11, 2024 at 1:35 pm

Right you are, Jeff! But good ole’ Henry McMaster saw fit to let Keel retire and then come back, so we could be treated to even more of his stellar antics like the one you noted.

Oh, and we can’t wait for Trump to institute his wonderful death penalty for drug dealers! Can you feel the success? We’re gonna be tired of winning.

Reply

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