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Asm. Bains announces bill to combat newer, more dangerous combinations with fentanyl

For immediate release:

(Sacramento, CA) Feb. 22, 2024 – A newer and more dangerous mixture of deadly drugs is the target of new legislation introduced by Dr. Jasmeet Bains (D-Delano).

AB 3029 reclassifies xylazine as a Schedule III Controlled Substance. Xylazine is an FDA-approved non-opioid tranquilizer typically used in veterinary applications, but it is not authorized for use in people. Other Schedule III drugs include methamphetamine, cocaine, and ketamine.

“A wave of xylazine-laced fentanyl will be more lethal and harder to treat. We need to get in front of this now before it becomes a bigger problem,” said Dr. Bains, who is also an addiction and recovery specialist.

The street name “tranq” or “tranq dope” refers to a combination of fentanyl and xylazine and has become increasingly prevalent. In a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control, the monthly percentage of deaths associated with fentanyl mixed with xylazine increased from 3% in January 2019 to 11% in June 2022. Xylazine is also commonly mixed with cocaine or heroin.

However, because xylazine is a non-opioid, standard overdose treatments like naloxone or Narcan can be less effective or not work at all. According to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, injecting tranq can also rot human tissue and lead to amputation.

“Within the last two years, we have seen a lot more cases of other drugs mixed with xylazine; we call them zombie drugs because of how unresponsive a person can be under the influence,” said Sergeant Jose Madrigal with the Delano Police Department.

“Classifying xylazine as a Schedule III drug is a step in the right direction and will also help us ensure we get people into drug diversion programs and can hold drug dealers accountable.”

The bill also requires coroners or medical examiners to screen for fentanyl, xylazine, and ketamine, among others, if any death is suspected to be the result of an overdose. Additional analysis is required to detect xylazine in drug overdose cases since routine toxicology tests do not detect xylazine. 

Dr. Bains has made fighting against opioids a centerpiece of her early tenure in the California State Legislature. Last year, she created a statewide task force to address silos in combating fentanyl and other emerging drug threats, pushed for protections to shield people from legal liability if they administer naloxone to someone who has overdosed, and secured $11 million in the 2023 state budget to fight fentanyl in Kern County. 

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Dr. Jasmeet Bains represents the 35th Assembly District in Kern County, including the cities of Bakersfield, Delano, Wasco, Arvin, Shafter, and McFarland.