Newsom demands more penalties for trafficking ‘tranq,’ critics say why not sooner

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(The Center Square) – California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new legislation to create harsher penalties for trafficking xylazine, an animal tranquilizer known as “tranq” that saw overdoses triple from 2020 to 2021 alone. Republicans asked why the governor was only reacting to the tranq crisis now given the rapid growth of the drug’s use and associated overdoses.

“Tranq poses a unique and devastating challenge in our fight against the overdose epidemic,” said Newsom in a public statement. “Although California is not yet seeing tranq at the same rates as other parts of the country, this legislation will help the state stay ahead and curb dealers and traffickers, while we work to provide treatment and resources for those struggling with addiction and substance abuse.”

By classifying tranq as a controlled substance, individuals prosecuted for trafficking the drug could result in a minimum sentencing of three years and/or fines up to $20,000, with those previously convicted of a felony and found guilty facing additional penalties.

However, given the growing prevalence of the drug, Republican lawmakers wonder why the governor is only deciding to act now.

“The governor is certainly, even frantically, trying to polish his tarnished reputation,” said State Sen. Brian Dahle, R–Bieber, to The Center Square. “While I support his efforts to crackdown on crime, he should have been implementing commonsense policies years ago to keep Californians safe. He’s simply attempting to implement change to help his national aspirations.”

A bipartisan bill to crack down on fentanyl dealers whose buyers die was introduced in 2023 but died in committee, despite support from leading state Democrats and Republicans.

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