TALLAHASSEE, FL --- A newly filed bill in the Florida Legislature would allow "zombie drug" xylazine to once again be administered to animals in Florida. The legislation would remove xylazine animal drug products from the list of Schedule 1 controlled substances, easing veterinary access to the drug.
"This bill seeks to create an exemption for xylazine animal drug products for use by licensed veterinarians from the controlled substances FDA law." The bill sponsor Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) said at the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, explaining that his bill would not provide exceptions for the human use of the drug, also known as "tranq".
According to the bill's analysis, a Schedule 1 drug has a "high potential for abuse" and "no currently accepted medical use". Created to medicate ailing animals, the American Veterinary Medical Association cautioned the federal government against classifying xylazine as such, stating "The AVMA is working very hard to lessen the impacts of such a decision on veterinary practice."
They continued, highlighting "the important, legitimate uses of xylazine across many areas of veterinary medicine, and emphasizing the lack of practical alternatives for use in cattle, horses, and many wildlife and zoo animal species."
In November 2022, the DEA issued a Public Safety Alert on the danger of xylazine: "Xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced, fentanyl, even deadlier,” said Administrator Milgram. “DEA has seized xylazine and fentanyl mixtures in 48 of 50 States. The DEA Laboratory System is reporting that in 2022 approximately 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA contained xylazine.”
"People who inject drug mixtures containing xylazine also can develop severe wounds, including necrosis—the rotting of human tissue—that may lead to amputation." The Alert continued, explaining the "zombie drug" moniker xylazine has earned.
Florida was the first state to classify the "zombie drug" as a Schedule 1 substance, following Attorney General Ashley Moody's efforts in 2016. "Our nation is experiencing a drug overdose crisis fueled by massive amounts of fentanyl flooding across the U.S. Southwest Border," Moody warned in March, "Now, xylazine is being found mixed with this illicit Mexican fentanyl, making the already lethal substance even more deadly. We’ve taken action in Florida to ban xylazine, and now I’m asking the DEA to act on the federal level to curb abuse and save lives nationwide.”
The Federal Government has yet to schedule xylazine. Following a unanimous vote, however, Sen. Gruter's SB 700 is one step closer to removing xylazine animal drug products from the Schedule 1 classification, granting vets easier administration of the medication.