A man who says he uses kratom to manage chronic pain told county leaders he’s concerned their recent ban on the drug will have unforeseen consequences.
Patrick Sudduth of Fulton appeared before the Itawamba County Board of Supervisors last week to ask them to reconsider their recent ban on kratom. Supervisors 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 late last month. Those caught with it face a misdemeanor charge and a $1,000 fine.
Similar regulations were passed Mantachie and Fulton.
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. But Sudduth argued that kratom offers a natural alternative to medication for chronic pain relief.
Sudduth said he suffers from both an annular tear and cluster headaches, both of which put him in a debilitating amount of pain. He leaned on a cane as he spoke to county leaders. While taking kratom, he said he doesn’t need it.
“I use kratom rather regularly,” Sudduth told the board. “When I’m on it, I am able to be sociable; I am able to do everything I am supposed to be able to do.”
Sudduth orders the kratom he uses online. Although the base ingredient is the same as what was being sold in local convenient stores, Sudduth said what he buys contains kratom leaves alone, which he brews into a tea to drink for pain relief.
“It’s just a plant,” he said. “It’s just a tea.”
He argued this is fundamentally different than what was being sold over-the-counter.
“I understand what you are doing. What you saw of it was at a gas station,” Sudduth said. “That is not actually what kratom is. That is a synthetic product mixed with something else and put in a 5-Hour Energy bottle.”
Sudduth said he doesn’t oppose regulating kratom or even banning the products being sold in gas stations, but did take issue with a wholesale ban of the leaf itself.
“Who goes to the gas station to manage their pain? I’m definitely not going to a gas station to buy my kratom,” he said. He compared buying kratom at a gas station to purchasing moonshine.
He asked county leaders to reconsider their position.
“[Kratom is] not nearly as bad as a sensationalized media would have you believe,” he said. “We’re going to take something away that could help people,” he said.