‘Zombie’ Drug Xylazine Found in UK Cannabis THC Vapes

Xylazine found UK cannabis THC vapes

In a concerning development, UK experts have discovered the presence of a highly dangerous substance called xylazine in some confiscated cannabis THC vapes. Xylazine, a sedative designed for use on large animals such as cows and horses, can be lethal when consumed by humans.

The Risks of Xylazine

The presence of xylazine in even a small number of illicit e-cigarettes is alarming, as many users may be unaware of the potential dangers. Xylazine, often referred to as the “zombie” drug, has been linked to at least one death in the UK, and experts fear that misuse could increase, following a trend observed in the United States.

Dr. Caroline Copeland and her colleagues from King’s College London have identified new types of illicit xylazine products entering the UK market, including risky vapes and tablets sold as codeine and diazepam (Valium) that contain the dangerous substance.

The Scope of the Problem

While the number of products found to contain xylazine is relatively small compared to the tens of thousands of products examined, the experts emphasize that the findings are still extremely concerning. Dr. Copeland told BBC News, “People may not realise what they are actually buying. They think they are getting a THC vape – but it could contain much more than they expect. It’s really alarming.”

Potential Health Risks

The health risks associated with xylazine use are significant, particularly when combined with other strong sedatives. Xylazine can cause difficulty breathing, dangerously low blood pressure, slowed heart rate, wounds that can become infected, addiction, severe withdrawal symptoms, and even death. The long-term effects of inhaling xylazine are not yet clear.

Government Response

In response to the findings, the UK’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has recommended that xylazine be classified as a Class C drug, placing it in the same category as substances like laughing gas, anabolic steroids, and benzodiazepines. This classification would mean that individuals possessing xylazine could face up to two years in prison, while those caught dealing the drug could face up to 14 years.

A government spokesperson stated, “We are aware of the threat from xylazine and are determined to protect people from the threat posed by this drug and other illicit synthetic drugs. We will not hesitate to act to keep the public safe.”


The discovery of xylazine in cannabis THC vapes and other illicit products in the UK serves as a stark reminder of the dangers associated with unregulated substances. As Prof. Sir John Strang, head of addictions at King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, noted, “We need to be constantly alert to changes in the nature of the illicit drug market, especially as these changes sometimes bring new health complications or challenges.”

It is crucial for individuals to be aware of the potential risks associated with illicit substances and to seek help if they or someone they know is struggling with addiction. By working together to raise awareness and implement effective policies, we can help protect public health and prevent the spread of dangerous substances like xylazine.

News source: BBC

Sophia Bennett