A drug previously sold in Alabama gas stations is now officially classified as a scheduled narcotic and banned across the state.
In September, the Alabama Department of Public Health said the addictive anti-depressant Tianeptine would be classified as a Schedule II drug.
Possession of any Schedule II controlled substance, without a valid prescription, is a felony charge in the State of Alabama.
“We know many convenience stores sell these products in Marshall County and within the cities,” said Marshall County Sheriff Phil Sims. “We have had many complaints of young people buying this drug in stores and becoming addicted to it. The Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, Drug Task Force, and the Marshall County District Attorney’s Office will enforce and prosecute anyone selling or possessing this drug.”
The drug is often marketed as a dietary supplement and is commonly found in convenience stores as “Tiana”, “Zaza Red”, and “Tiana Red”.
Medical experts say it is highly addictive and has a similar effect to opioids, by giving its user a euphoric high and strong withdrawal symptoms.
Tianeptine is not approved by the FDA, but is marketed as a dietary and herbal supplement. While previously banned in select cities, this is the first statewide ban.
Major Clay Hammac with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office says law enforcement only enforce the ban on tianeptine with the same spelling as listed by the Department of Public Health.
And that leaves a potential workaround.
“It’s still the same harmful product,” said Major Hammac. “It still has some of the same consequences that you see this dangerous product having now in your local gas station. Simply changing the name is not going to change the affects it has on our community.”
Hammac says he is going to speak to the District Attorney and Attorney General so it is cleared from shelves regardless of spelling.