FULTON • A man who says he uses Kratom to manage chronic pain told Itawamba County leaders he’s concerned their recent ban on the drug will have unforeseen consequences. Meanwhile, Monroe County is set to become the next county added to the list of those banning the drug.
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 by Mantachie and Fulton.
Prior to the bans, several Itawamba County stores were selling products that contained Kratom, typically bottled as a liquid.
Itawamba County leaders passed their bans on the recommendation of Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson, who said abusing Kratom can cause dependence and that mixing it with other substances like alcohol, opioids or even cough syrup can be deadly.
Meanwhile, the Monroe County Board of Supervisors voted in late March to update a countywide ordinance passed in August 2010 addressing synthetic cannabinoids. The new language reflects Kratom. No one present in that meeting, or at the supervisors’ two following meetings last week, voiced opposition to the countywide Kratom ban.
Following a Monroe Journal article covering the March 22 board of supervisors meeting, Kratom supporters from several other states sent emails denying that Kratom was a dangerous or addictive substance. Several of those who sent emails said Kratom helped manage their pain.
Mac Haddow, senior fellow on public policy with the American Kratom Association (AKA), disputes widely circulated analysis by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“It’s the same thing that happened in the early ‘90s when the FDA claimed vitamins and dietary supplements were killing people,” Haddow said in a recent telephone interview. “The FDA will stretch the truth beyond recognition.”
He said a group of 13 scientists dissected the FDA’s data on Kratom, stating it was deficient and that the product was never linked to 44 deaths the FDA reported it was. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states the adulteration of Kratom, or combining it with other drugs, contributed to the reported deaths.
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 Itawamba County leaders. While taking Kratom, he said he doesn’t need the cane.
“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 Itawamba 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.
The Georgia Legislature recently joined Utah in passing the Kratom Consumer Protection Act, which regulates the preparation, distribution and sale of Kratom products; prohibits the preparation, distribution and sale of adulterated or contaminated Kratom products; prescribes fines and penalties; and provides for the powers and duties of certain state governmental offices and entities.
Haddow said the act protects consumers’ safety while offering them an alternative to purchase Kratom.
He said the AKA has reached out to Mississippi legislators to see if they’d be willing to implement the act.