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Asm. Public Safety Committee approves Dr. Bains’ bill to fight emerging drug threats

For immediate release:

(Sacramento, CA) April 2, 2024 - Dr. Jasmeet Bains' (D-Delano) bill to tackle xylazine, an emerging street additive to fentanyl, passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee today with unanimous and bipartisan support.

"Given the need to maintain the availability of xylazine as a veterinary medication, we need to have our regulatory framework and criminal code reflect the reality of what we see when people come in for treatment or, worse, are found dead from an overdose," Dr. Bains said.

Specifically, AB 3029 schedules xylazine as a Schedule III controlled substance, contingent upon Congress acting to schedule the sedative.

The growing threat of xylazine has prompted calls to action at the federal level and across states, including by Governor Newsom. Xyalzine is particularly dangerous as an adulterant because naloxone, a critical treatment for opioid overdose, will not reverse the effects of xylazine. There is no approved xylazine antidote for human use. Xyalzine is a sedative typically used to tranquilize large mammals.

In a report published recently by the US Drug Enforcement Agency, the emergence of xylazine is following the same path as fentanyl, spreading westward from the Northeast and South. The DEA reported that between 2020 and 2021, the US Census South region saw a 1,127% increase in xylazine-positive overdose deaths.

Furthermore, this bill requires coroners and medical examiners to test for xylazine in the event of suspected overdose death. Routine toxicology screens do not detect xylazine.

"This bill adds common sense changes that give law enforcement and first responders better data to understand and fight xylazine with an eye toward future unknown threats," said Brian Marvel, President of the Peace Officers' Research Association of California (PORAC).

PORAC also submitted a letter supporting the bill to the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

AB 3029 also allows the California Department of Public Health to be proactive as other polydrug threats emerge by giving them the authority to create testing equipment without additional changes to California law.

The Assembly Business and Professions Committee will next consider the bill.

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