TUPELO • Lee County supervisors have scheduled a public hearing on a proposed kratom ban for 9:30 a.m. May 20.
Sheriff Jim Johnson and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics have asked Lee County to fall in behind approximately 28 counties and cities in the region and ban an unregulated, herbal product locally sold in gas stations.
Kratom is produced from the leaves of a tropical tree grown in Southeast Asia. Commonly consumed as a powder, a liquid or in capsule form, kratom is legal in most of the United States.
With a draft ordinance now under consideration, supervisors will take public comment at their next scheduled meeting on May 20 at 300 W. Main St. in Tupelo.
The board could hold a vote on the proposed ordinance the same day as the public hearing, though that will remain within the discretion of supervisors.
During a brief discussion of the issue Monday morning, supervisors appeared to take a dim view of kratom.
District 2 Supervisor Mike Smith recently traveled to Lowndes County with Sheriff Jim Johnson and met with kratom opponents there.
“It’s a pretty bad deal, they say,” Smith said. “It appears to me it needs to be banned.”
Smith went on to cite concerns about addiction and the inconsistency of kratom products, with reportedly wide variance of dosage depending on the manufacturer.
The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics says kratom has been involved with 12 deaths statewide, though in 10 of those deaths substances other than kratom were also identified within the victim’s system.
The state’s top drug enforcement agency has joined with law enforcement throughout Northeast Mississippi to lobby counties and cities to ban kratom.
MBN Director John Downy told the Daily Journal last week in a statement that agency will likely expand its efforts against kratom into other areas of Mississippi.
Kratom users throughout the region have opposed the bans and report that kratom provides pain relief and can aid people with anxiety disorders.
The Food and Drug Administration has voiced concerns about kratom, but federal efforts to make the substance illegal have not moved forward.
Legislation to ban kratom statewide in Mississippi died in committee earlier this year.