Despite some concerns from local users of the drug, the Fulton Board of Aldermen declined to rescind its ban on kratom or kratom-related products, last week.

Fulton, Mantachie and Itawamba County made the possession and sale of the drug, which is derived from the leaves of a tropical tree and frequently mixed with synthetic additives to give it opioid-like properties, illegal in March. Those found in possession of it face a misdemeanor charge and a $1,000 fine.

Last Tuesday, a small group of kratom users spoke with Fulton aldermen about their concerns with the ban. Several of the speakers said they use the drug to mitigate pain and cut down on pharmaceutical expenses.

Patrick Sudduth, who previously made a similar appeal to the Itawamba County Board of Supervisors, asked Fulton leaders to reconsider their ban on the substance. Sudduth told the board he suffers from cluster headaches and a herniated disc and uses kratom to control his pain and to give him the ability to function in a normal capacity.

Sudduth told the board he orders the kratom he uses online as leaves, which he brews into a tea to drink for pain relief.

Alan Smith, a former heroin addict who said he uses kratom to control withdrawal symptoms, told the board kratom has changed his life. He told aldermen he leads a productive life now, holding down a steady job and cares for his wife and children. He cited the “God made plant” is the only thing that keeps him on track.

Kratom is derived from the plant Mitragyna Speciosa, a tropical plant-like tree native to Southeast Asia. Its leaves contain two addictive compounds, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, interact with opioid receptors in the brain and give users a high, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The substance is produced as bottled liquid, e-cigarette cartridges and in powder versions.

Prior to the bans, several Itawamba County stores were selling products that contained kratom, typically bottled as a liquid.

County leaders passed their bans on the recommendation of Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson, who said abusing kratom can cause dependence and mixing it with other substances like alcohol, opioids or even cough syrup can be deadly.

When speaking with the Mantachie and Fulton boards, Dickinson was supported by Capt. Tammy Reynolds with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (MBN).

Both Sudduth and Smith told the board they agreed with regulating the synthetic products that are sold in convenience stores, but said outright banning the substance will do more harm than good.

Members of the board declined to make a motion to make any changes to the kratom ordinance that is in place. It remains as is.

Kratom remains legal at the federal level, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings about it.

Kratom bans have been growing increasingly common throughout Northeast Mississippi, although several municipalities that were seemingly preparing to ban its possession and sale have instead opted to study the drug and its uses further before outright banning it.

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