Attorney General Bonta Advocates for Federal Regulations on Illicit Use of the Tranquilizer Xylazine

Monday, May 15, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Urges U.S. Congress to classify the animal tranquilizer xylazine, commonly called “tranq” and frequently combined with illicit fentanyl, as a controlled substance 

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a multistate bipartisan letter with the attorneys general of multiple states in support of the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act which is currently pending in the U.S. Congress. This act seeks to place new regulations on xylazine, which is a non-opioid veterinary tranquilizer for large animals like horses and deer that is not approved for use in humans. In recent years, it has increasingly been found combined with illicit fentanyl by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) with reports that 23% of the illicit fentanyl powder and 7% of the illicit fentanyl pills they tested contain xylazine.  

“We must use every tool in our toolbox to combat the deadly fentanyl epidemic,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “The popularity of this veterinary tranquilizer is on the rise in California and across the United States and needs to be properly regulated. Today, multiple states are standing together to call on U.S. Congress to classify this drug as a controlled substance and protect Americans. This has never been more urgent — people are dying from fentanyl-related overdose each and every day.”

“State law enforcement officials recognize the threat that xylazine-adulterated fentanyl poses to the public health and safety of every community in our country,” said Rep. Jimmy Panetta.  “My bipartisan, bicameral Combating Illicit Xylazine Act would give law enforcement at all levels the tools that they need to both track illicit xylazine and punish those illegally trafficking it into our communities.  Xylazine makes the use of fentanyl cheaper, more addictive, and deadlier.  That is why Congress must act now to counter this scourge of fentanyl and xylazine by passing this legislation.” 

Xylazine often causes fatal overdose and because it’s not an opioid, it does not respond to Naloxone (NARCAN). Part of its prevalence stems from the fact that it is cheap and legal. The Combating Illicit Xylazine Act seeks to change that by classifying xylazine as a Schedule III drug, restricting its legal use outside of certain approved purposes.  The Act also provides critical tools that will enable the DEA to track its manufacturing, prevent diversion, and mandate analysis and reporting on the illicit use of xylazine.   

Right now, the lack of restrictions on illicit xylazine makes it easy for criminal syndicates to transport it and dealers to sell it. As long as it remains legal, it will remain an easy-to-acquire and dangerous drug. This letter acts as part of the multifaceted approach to the fentanyl crisis that utilizes ongoing enforcement, litigation, and effective public policy strategies for prevention. It includes holding the opioid industry accountable by obtaining judgments and using that money to fund treatment and interventions for drug addiction, especially for vulnerable youth, carrying out outreach and awareness initiatives, increasing the availability of Naloxone (NARCAN), and supporting job creation programs for those recovering from substance abuse disorders. 

Recently, Attorney General Bonta announced the seizure of 40 pounds of fentanyl through partnership local law enforcement partners in Merced County. Attorney General Bonta also announced in 2022-2023 budget year, DOJ secured $7.9 million for the creation of the program within DOJ under coordination of its Bureau of Investigation to expand this important work, with an allocation of $6.7 million in ongoing funding. 

In addition to this enforcement work, Attorney General Bonta continues an all-in approach by advancing effective public policy and working with national partners to hold the opioid industry accountable for their role in creating the opioid crisis and its impacts. To date, DOJ has secured over $32 billion through nationwide settlements, including $2 billion for California, bringing needed funding back to communities for treatment and prevention strategies. 

Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin in filing the letter. A copy of the letter can be found here.



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