PENNSYLVANIA (WTAJ) — A bill that would criminalize illicit possession of xylazine with a veterinary use exemption has passed the Pennsylvania House on Thursday, Oct. 5.

According to Representative Carl Walker Metzgar (R – Somerset), the bill is an effort to ensure animal sedatives are used for their intended purposes. The bill passed the House by a 169-34 vote.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), xylazine is a prescription sedative approved only for use in animals.

Metzgar said the Department of Health earlier this year temporarily scheduled xylazine as a Schedule III controlled substance in Pennsylvania because it is increasingly being found in mixtures of illicit drugs. House Bill 1661 would codify this decision in part by criminalizing illicit possession to keep people alive and protect the safety of individuals.

“One of the first cases involving recreational xylazine usage was in Somerset County,” Metzgar said. “The person used it at a baby changing station at a gas station. Illicit xylazine in combination with illicit drugs is a serious public health concern, and I am pleased to see bipartisan support in advancing my legislation.”

Get daily updates on local news, weather and sports by signing up for the WTAJ Newsletter

House Bill 1661 now heads to the Senate for consideration.