The Penalties for “Tranq” Are Official, and They’re Harsh

The Penalties for “Tranq” Are Official, and They’re HarshIt is often said that in this world there are “givers” and there are “takers.” People can be both, depending on time and circumstance, but drug addiction is only ever one thing: a taker. It is an illness that takes away jobs, it takes away stability, it takes away family, it takes away health, and ultimately, it takes away lives and futures.

It can also take your freedom, or the freedom of someone you love. In Tennessee, drugs are related to approximately 80% of all crimes. There are a variety of illegal drugs that contribute to this statistic; the most recent is xylazine, often referred to simply as “tranq” or “tranq dope.”

What is “tranq” or xylazine?

Xylazine is an animal tranquilizer that is used to “provide sedation, pain relief, and muscle relaxation in dogs, cats, horses, and other animals,” according to Poison Control. It is not approved for use in humans and, in fact, can be life-threatening to humans. Despite the danger, its use among humans is rapidly increasing. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), xylazine is “increasingly being found in the U.S. illegal drug supply and linked to overdose deaths.”

The CDC reports that xylazine is particularly deadly when mixed with opioids such as fentanyl, so much so that in July 2023 it was declared an emerging threat by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Per the CDC, the “DEA has seized xylazine and fentanyl mixtures in 48 of 50 states, and the DEA laboratory system reported that approximately 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA in 2022 contained xylazine. Xylazine is usually injected, although it can be swallowed or sniffed.”

Tranq is a serious drug – and seriously dangerous

In a story reported by Tennessee news outlet, an individual who was addicted to tranq but is now in recovery shared her story, explaining how she unknowingly began using the drug and the dark path it took her down – to the point where she developed open wounds on her arms that then became infected, and she eventually found herself cutting off pieces of skin that were dead and dying.

These are not the only dangers of xylazine. According to the CDC, in addition to wounds that can become infected, in humans the drug can also cause:

  • Death
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dangerously low blood pressure
  • Sedation
  • Slowed heart rate

Tranq can also cause severe withdrawal symptoms.

According to the CDC, while naloxone, a life-saving medication which is used to reverse opioid overdose, will not reverse the effects of xylazine, it should still be administered in the event of an overdose, since tranq is so often found combined with opioids.

Tranq carries serious legal consequences

In Tennessee, the xyzaline problem is so serious that lawmakers have taken action. On July 1, 2023, a law went into effect criminalizing the illegal possession and sale of tranq. Under this law, known as the “Drug of the Living Dead Act,” anyone who is arrested for having xylazine illegally can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, while anyone who is found to be selling or intending to sell it can be charged with a felony.

These charges are not to be taken lightly:  In Tennessee, a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by more than 11 months in jail, fines of up to $2,500 or, depending on the circumstances, both. A Class A felony for selling controlled substances carries a prison sentence of 15 to 60 years or a fine of up to $500,000 dollars – or both.

One of the most frightening aspects of xylazine is that it is often added to other drugs, particularly opioids like fentanyl, without the drug user being aware. A person who is arrested for drug possession may think they only have fentanyl on them, when in fact they have both fentanyl and xylazine if the fentanyl is laced with the other drug. In addition to the increased health risks associated with xylazine, it can also result in more severe legal penalties.

Don’t let a drug conviction ruin your future

If you or someone you love is arrested and charged with the possession, sale of, or intent to sell xylazine, the charges must be taken seriously because a conviction will in all likelihood lead to jail time. Drug crimes often carry a stigma for those who are accused of them. They can damage your name and reputation, and depending on the type of conviction, may follow you throughout your future. This could impact your ability to get a job, be approved for a home rental, or secure a loan or mortgage.

The personal and professional costs of a drug conviction can be painful, but so is asking for help. A skilled Franklin criminal defense lawyer who is experienced in defending clients against drug charges is your best hope for a positive outcome in a drug case – particularly one involving xylazine. However, it may be necessary for you to share personal details about your life so that your attorney can create an effective defense against the charges. This can be embarrassing, but the right attorney will not judge you for any mistakes or errors in judgment you may have made.

At the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, we understand that drug addiction is an illness and that everyone makes mistakes. We also know the toll drug addiction and drug crimes can take on not only the person afflicted, but their loved ones as well. If you or someone you love has been arrested for a crime involving xylazine or any other illegal substance, we can help. From our offices in Franklin, Columbia and Brentwood, we defend clients against drug charges throughout Middle Tennessee. Our criminal defense lawyers understand how the prosecution builds a case – and know how to counter it every step of the way. We fight hard to achieve the best possible outcome for all of our clients, and we do so with compassion and without judgment. Complete our contact form today or give us a call to schedule a consultation.