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Xylazine Reclassified as Controlled Substance

Published: Mar 30, 2023 by Brandon Smith

On March 29, 2023, Governor DeWine signed an executive order directing the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy to reclassify xylazine as a controlled substance. The reason given for placing xylazine on Ohio’s controlled substance list is its increasing prevalence in overdose deaths and in illegal drugs overall. By some estimates, xylazine was present in almost no overdose deaths as recently as 2019 but by 2022 was present in at least 2.5% of overdose deaths and may be present in as much as 25-30% of illegally-circulating fentanyl.

The Pharmacy Board complied with Governor DeWine’s order by emergency rule. As of March 29, 2023, xylazine is a Schedule III Controlled Substance in Ohio.

This reclassification is likely to have the most significant impact on veterinarians and horsemen.

Veterinary clinics that wish to continue possessing xylazine and that do not currently possess or were previously exempt from licensure as a terminal distributor of dangerous drugs have until June 20, 2023 to obtain a terminal distributor license. Currently-licensed terminal distributors have until April 28, 2023 to complete an inventory of their xylazine, as required of any controlled substance, and to come into compliance with all other controlled substance requirements.

The Ohio State Racing Commission currently classifies xylazine as a therapeutic substance and enforces a regulatory threshold on the amount of xylazine that can be present in a horse on race day. It remains to be seen whether that threshold will change or whether the Commission will reclassify xylazine in response to its move to Schedule III. However, regardless of whether the Commission takes any action, routine violations for xylazine may no longer be routine due to its new classification as a controlled substance. The Commission may consider xylazine’s new classification as a Schedule III Controlled Substance when determining what sanctions are appropriate for violations of the regulatory threshold.

If you are a terminal distributor of dangerous drugs, veterinary clinic, veterinarian, or horseman with questions regarding the reclassification of xylazine in Ohio, you should consider contacting the licensed attorneys at Graff & McGovern, LPA. Attorney Brandon Smith is available at (614) 228-5800, ext. 7 and at