Pell City has banned the sale and delivery of Tianeptine, a compound found in Tianaa and ZaZa brand “dietary supplements,” that, when taken in high enough doses, recreates the effects of opioids.
City ordinance 2021-5467, introduced by Mayor Bill Pruitt at the Monday council meeting, passed unanimously, with the exception of Council President Jud Alverson who was not at the meeting because of a COVID-19 related quarantine.
“I would like to thank our Council for joining me and moving so quickly and decisively to ban the sale of products containing the dangerous drug, Tianeptine, within the limits of Pell City,” the mayor said in a Facebook post after the ordinance passed.
The ban will take effect in four to five days. In an interview with APR, Pruitt said he first became aware of the substance due to legal clients he represented who struggle with addiction to tianeptine pills.
“In the last couple of weeks, I’ve started encountering some of my clients with problems with this,” Pruitt said, adding that he spoke with state Rep. Jim Hill, R-Moody, about House Bill 2, a bill proposing a statewide Tianeptine ban. “I wanted to talk to Judge Hill to see kind of what the timeframe was, and after talking about that and understanding that it was a little ways out there, even with ADPH’s rule change and reclassification. I got with our city manager and city attorney and touched base with council members and told them this was something I was gonna bring up.”
“This is all come from a call to everyone, ‘Hey, check this out,’ to passage in less than a week’s time, and we just felt it was that critical that we had to move that quickly,” Pruitt said.
The mayor praised Councilmember Ivi McDaniel for her aide in crafting the ordinance. McDaniels is a state-certified substance abuse counselor with experience treating Tianeptine addiction, according to Pruitt.
Pruitt said this ordinance was not meant as a “reflection on the speed in which the state is doing it,” thanking state Rep. Mike Holmes and others involved with HB2.
“If anything, this is a supplement to what they’re doing,” Pruitt said. “To start it at the local level. I can’t thank them enough for their efforts to deal with it statewide, and this is only intended to supplement what they’re doing.”
Presiding Circuit Judge for St. Clair County Philip Seay, who addressed the council during the meeting, spoke with APR Monday evening about his experiences with victims of Tianeptine pills.
“I recently had a single mother of two who had some depression issues after her second child. She was taking opioids, and when she was charged with possessing that, she switched to the Tianaa sold over the counter and across the state, including St Clair County,” Seay said. “She cried the last two times in court — we have drug court every Thursday morning — about her inability to pump gas at a C-store because she has a compulsion to go in and buy this Tianaa.”
Seay said he doesn’t know of another municipality in Alabama that has banned the substance.
House Bill 2, introduced by Holmes, R-Wetumpka, is currently pending in the House Judiciary Committee.