"Zombie Drug" Xylazine Found In UK Cannabis Vapes, Raising Safety Concerns: Study

Experts have issued a warning that a potent flesh-eating "zombie" drug, prevalent in the US, has made its way into Britain's illicit drug market.

'Zombie Drug' Xylazine Found In UK Cannabis Vapes, Raising Safety Concerns: Study

Xylazine is often referred to as "the zombie drug" because of its effect on users.

UK health officials are raising concerns after finding xylazine, a powerful sedative used on large animals, in confiscated cannabis vape cartridges, according to The BBC. Xylazine, nicknamed the "zombie drug" for its sedative effects, can be lethal in humans.

Experts warn that even small amounts of xylazine in these vapes, which are often seen as harmless, can be dangerous. This raises concerns for people who vape cannabis products, as well as those who inject or misuse stronger drugs, as per the news outlet.

Xylazine is typically mixed with heroin or fentanyl in the illegal drug trade, but its presence in cannabis vapes is a new development in the UK. While one xylazine-related death has already been reported, authorities fear this trend could mirror the rise of xylazine misuse seen in the United States.

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Dr Caroline Copeland, senior author of a new study that was published in the journal Addiction, and colleagues from King's College London told The BBC that new types of illicit xylazine products are now entering the UK market. As well as risky vapes, they found tablets being sold as codeine and diazepam, or Valium, that contained xylazine. The researchers contacted all toxicology laboratories in the UK last year to gather evidence.

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They also looked at drug-testing results from hauls seized by law enforcement. Although the numbers found were small-only two THC vapes and a small number of illegally sold pills out of tens of thousands of products-the experts say it is still extremely concerning.

What is Xylazine?

As per a report by Sky News, in the hands of vets, xylazine is a commonly used tranquillizer, often mixed with ketamine, to sedate animals, including horses, cattle, and cats.

As a non-opioid sedative, it is able to inhibit the transmission of brain impulses to the central nervous system. But in recent years, it has become synonymous with a darker use as a cutting agent for illegal drugs such as heroin.

In the US, its mixture with fentanyl has had a widespread impact among drug users in American cities. Such is the concern in Washington about its spread that Joe Biden's administration has labelled it an emerging threat to the nation and outlined a six-point plan to tackle it.