Over the past six months, national and local media have flooded the news cycle with stories about the “horrors” of xylazine, a non-opioid animal tranquilizer increasingly found mixed with fentanyl, sometimes to deadly effect. Outlets including the New York Times and CNN have trafficked in graphic portrayals of xylazine use, even calling it “the zombie drug,” a term advocates say fuels stigma and punitive measures against people who use drugs.

Indeed, amid this wave of sensationalized coverage and broader concerns that xylazine is driving up overdose rates nationwide, lawmakers have responded by rushing to criminalize possession of the drug. But critics fear the current push against xylazine is repeating the cycle that led to its rise.

Four states, FloridaWest VirginiaOhio, and Pennsylvania, have already added xylazine to their lists of controlled substances. Proposed legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate would criminalize some xylazine possession at the federal level and increase funding for law enforcement to “crack down on its spread,” in the words of one of the bill’s sponsors.

This official response to xylazine mirrors tactics that have been used for decades in campaigns against emerging “drugs of concern.”

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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