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Shapiro making xylazine schedule III drug fails to solve crisis: activist

Pa. Gov. Josh Shapiro making xylazine schedule III drug fails to solve crisis, activist says
Pa. Gov. Josh Shapiro making xylazine schedule III drug fails to solve crisis, activist says 02:11

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- One week after federal officials declared the drug xylazine an emerging threat, Pennsylvania  Gov. Josh Shapiro announced Tuesday he is upgrading the powerful animal sedative on the state's list of controlled substances.

But an activist says the measure fails to actually help those who need it.

Shapiro announced he will be upgrading xylazine to a level three schedule of controlled substances.

"We need to bring enforcement, treatment and prevention together in order to tackle this crisis," Shapiro said. "Scheduling these drugs allows us to put tighter controls, security and record keeping requirements in place to keep them out of our communities."

The drug is used legally to sedate large animals like horses. But on the street, "tranq," as it's known, is now being found illegally in more than 90% of Philadelphia's dope supply mixed to extend the high of opioids.

"It is a public health crisis," Sarah Laurel said.

Xylazine has been linked to a surge in overdose deaths and can also cause painful wounds.

"Rehab won't accept them with these open wounds, so even if they wanted to get help, they cannot," Laurel said.

Laurel is the founder of Savage Sisters, a nonprofit focused on compassionate care for those suffering from addiction. She worries Pennsylvania's move is political rather than practical.

"They could already prosecute an individual if they were found with xylazine because it has fentanyl in it as well," Laurel said.

Instead, she argues what's needed most right now are updated withdrawal procedures and resources for first responders, along with better treatment options for those suffering.

"We need to humanize this situation and understand that each person that we are serving, they are a person. They have a name, they have a mom, they have a dad and they matter," Laurel said.

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