Mississippi city moves forward with law to ban kratom products

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, July 18, 2019

After tabling the discussion during a May 7 meeting, the proposal to ban synthetic products containing Kratom was once again discussed at this week’s meeting of the Oxford Board of Aldermen and city leaders moved forward with the process to ban the products.

A second reading of the proposal and a public hearing still must be completed before the ban goes into effect.

Interim Oxford Police Department Chief Jeff McCutchen presented an ordinance to the Board for a first reading in May, but Ward II Alderman Mark Huelse asked to table the ordinance, saying that the Kratom plant can have medicinal uses, and that a former Ole Miss professor was conducting research and would like to speak with him before going further. The Board agreed to table the item, but a new ordinance had a first reading on Tuesday.

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As McCutchen mentioned during the May meeting, OPD Major Sheridan Maiden echoed that there had been an “uptick” in North Mississippi, where Kratom had been found in blood tests from people who had overdosed on a mixture of drugs.

Mitragyna speciosa, more commonly known as Kratom, is a tropical evergreen tree in the coffee family that is indigenous to Southeast Asia, more specifically, to Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea. It has been used in traditional medicines since the 19th Century, if not before. However, Kratom also has opioid properties and some stimulant-like effects.

Itawamba, Union, Monroe, Lowndes, Alcon and Tishomingo Counties have all banned Kratom. Fulton New Albany, Mantatchie and Pontotoc are cities that have also banned products that have Kratom listed as an ingredient.

During Tuesday’s discussion, Huelse once again raised concerns over having one ordinance banning synthetic products and Kratom. He suggested that a “source” of his whom he had spoken with recommend the Board split the ordinances into two, with Kratom being separate in case the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the product to be used for medicinal purposes, following additional testing the FDA is currently conducting on the substance.

“I support this, it’s just that Kratom someday down the road may be approved for medicinal use,” Huelse said. “I think we could do a first reading with this with the understanding that the public hearing we make up two ordinances just so down the road we can review the Kratom (ordinance) again.”

After a few minutes of discussion, the Board decided to stick with one ordinance encompassing synthetic products and Kratom for the second reading and a public hearing, which will take place at a future meeting.