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Legal Updates

This page contains the current year’s legal cases and statutes that are relevant to municipal police officers throughout the Commonwealth, as these cases have a direct impact on how police officers perform their day-to-day duties.

06/03/2023: PA Department of Health issued temporary orders on Xylazine and Nitazine compounds. These temporary orders are in place for one year.
Nitazine compounds, which include Isotonitazene, Protonitazene, Flunitazene; Metodesnitazene, Metonitazene, Etonitazene, Butonitazene and Etodesnitazene, are now considered a Schedule I Controlled Substance by the PA Department of health. As stated in Pa.B 3033:
“The DEA determined that, because Nitazenes, including: Isotonitazene; Protonitazene; Flunitazene; Metodesnitazene; Metonitazene; Etonitazene; Butonitazene; and Etodesnitazene: (1) have high potential for abuse; (2) have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; (3) lack accepted safety for use under medical supervision; and (4) have been responsible for numerous deaths, it was, therefore, necessary to schedule these substances into Schedule I of the CSA to avoid an imminent and continued hazard to the public safety.
Pharmacological data suggest that this Nitazene class of compounds have potency similar to or greater than Fentanyl based on their structural modifications. Because the Nitazene class of compounds pose a substantial risk to the residents of this Commonwealth, the Secretary has determined to schedule them as Schedule I controlled substances on a temporary basis. In doing so, the Secretary is acting to protect the residents of this Commonwealth and bring the Commonwealth into conformity with Federal law.”
Xylazine is now considered a Schedule III Controlled Substance by the PA Department of Health. It is for veterinary use only. As stated in Pa.B 3031:
“Although approved only for veterinary use, Xylazine is a nonopioid with an increasing presence as an adulterant, often in combination with opioids, in the illicit drug supply. Adulterants are frequently added to clandestine drugs to: (1) increase or decrease a drug’s effects; or (2) increase a drug’s resale value. Following these trends, the earliest reports of Xylazine indicate that it was being used to enhance the effects of heroin. Both isolated and in combination with other drugs, Xylazine is implicated as a cause or contributing cause of death in the United States. According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration: (1) the emergence of Xylazine across the United States appears to be following the same path as Fentanyl, beginning in the Northeast before spreading to the South and then working its way into drug markets westward; and (2) its low cost contributes, in part, to Xylazine’s expanded presence in the Nation’s illegal drug supply.
Xylazine use may be accompanied by skin ulcers with wounds that excrete puss, have decaying tissue and bacterial infections, which can lead to amputation at higher rates than those who inject other drugs. Heroin and Xylazine have some similar pharmacological effects including bradycardia, hypotension, central nervous system depression and respiratory depression. When used in combination with an opioid, Xylazine may worsen respiratory depression in the event of a drug overdose. Because Xylazine is not an opioid, Naloxone is not known to be effective at reversing overdoses caused by Xylazine.”
Possession/PWID of these substances would be cited under the Health and Safety Act, 35 Pa. State 780-113. The penalties would be the same as those for any Schedule I or Schedule III drug.

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