PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota House passed a bill Wednesday that would make xylazine, an animal sedative that is being mixed with fentanyl and then used by some people, a controlled substance.
The measure, which passed unanimously in the Republican-held House and now goes to the Senate, would establish penalties of up to two years in prison and fines of up to $4,000 for possession and use of xylazine. There are exceptions for veterinary use, however.
Xylazine in humans can cause health problems including difficulty breathing, dangerously low blood pressure, a slowed heart rate, wounds that can become infected and even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year the Office of National Drug Control Policy designated the combination of fentanyl and xylazine as an “ emerging threat.”
The South Dakota Health Department and Republican state Attorney General Marty Jackley brought the bill in South Dakota. Jackley said Congress has been slow to act even as xylazine has “become a national epidemic.”
As things stand now, “If we were to arrest a drug dealer and they don't have fentanyl on them yet, and they've got a pile of xylazine, we can't confiscate it, we can't arrest them for it, and that's a serious concern,” Jackley said.
Police are encountering xylazine in the state, mainly in Sioux Falls, he said.