Lee County supervisors hear from both sides in Kratom debate

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LEE COUNTY, MISS. (WCBI) – Supervisors in Lee County said they need to do more research before deciding whether to ban a controversial herbal supplement known as kratom.

As an ER nurse and Captain with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Tammy Reynolds said she has seen first hand the dangers of kratom.

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“We have had 11 overdose deaths, possibly 12, two of which were nothing but Kratom, but two mainly Kratom, didn’t have anything else in their system, that shows us there is a potential for overdose,” said Capt. Reynolds.

Captain Reynolds helped draft the proposed ordinance that would ban Kratom in Lee County.

Kratom is a tree found in Southeast Asia. Its leaves can be eaten raw, but are often crushed and brewed as a tea or turned into capsules, tablets and liquids. In low doses, Kratom can act as a stimulant and in large amounts, it acts as a sedative.

Although it is legal, it is unregulated and widely available, Captain Reynolds said Kratom is addictive, dangerous and should be banned.

Adam Smith now runs his tile and flooring business, but says he was addicted to opiates for more than 15 years.

Smith said Kratom helped him make a clean break from drugs and he believed a ban on all forms of kratom would do more harm than good.

“There’s been some confusion with the raw plant, of Kratom and synthetics and extracts they’re using and I am completely for banning those, but taking away raw plant, which has helped so many people, I don’t think they should be lumped together,” said Smith.

The proposed ordinance would ban the sale and possession of kratom. Supervisors said they need some time for research and there is the possibility the ordinance could be amended to ban certain forms of kratom, or prohibiting its sale to minors.

“From everything I’ve seen, if you take it wrong, it’s a bad thing, and when you walk into a service station and can get it, it’s twice as bad. and kids don’t know the difference,” said Lee County Supervisor President Tony Roper.

Supervisors hoped to have a decision on the proposed kratom ban by mid-June.

So far, 28 Northeast Mississippi counties and cities have made possession or sale of kratom a misdemeanor.

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