A few years ago, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) tried to place kratom in its list of scheduled substances, making it illegal across the nation for consumers to obtain legally. Fortunately, the movement was stopped dead in its tracks by tremendous outspoken support from citizens and kratom advocates throughout all 50 states. But the war against kratom still marches forward, albeit this time, the proponents for banning the substance are focusing their efforts more heavily at the local levels of government: counties, cities, and states.
Kratom Bans Across Mississippi
Mississippi has a tumultuous relationship with kratom. One of the state senators of Mississippi, Chuck Younger, proposed a bill to add kratom to the Schedule 1 Controlled Substances for the entire state, but it died in committee at the beginning of 2020. The senator was working alongside the Lowndes County Crime and Addiction Task Force with the pursuit. The task force was responsible for getting an ordinance passed within Lowndes County and has since used its clout to push the agenda onto neighboring territories in the state.
And it seems to be working. There are a growing number of municipalities in Mississippi that have adopted the ordinances to ban the sale of kratom within the dominion of those local governments. And the Lowndes County task force doesn’t seem to be slowing down with its crusade. When we look at the entire state of Mississippi, there are approximately 30 different locations that have banned the product from those jurisdictions.
The Absurdity of a Kratom Ban
Mississippi officials banning kratom is even more surprising whenever you take into account that they understand the dangers associated with the black market. John Dowdy, the director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, once stated during a press conference that purchasing substances on the street are akin to playing Russian roulette. He also went on to say that there are very high odds for substance sold on the street that could be laced with fentanyl—an opioid 100 times stronger than morphine.
Now, with the logical rationale behind such a remark, you would think that higher-ups would understand that pushing substances into an illegal arena does additional damage to the public they’re charged with protecting. Kratom is a non-lethal substance. Besides, the plant has therapeutic benefits associated with its alkaloids.
And trying to ban the substance seems to be a disservice to the residents of those areas. The citizens of Mississippi are already in a precarious situation when we look at the health-care rating of the state. Last year, in 2019, a survey was conducted to assess the rank of each state’s medical system. The results provided a comprehensive behind-the-scenes outlook of the best and worst report of its findings. According to the results, Mississippi almost ranked the worst state in the nation for its health care—it took the 48th spot. As such, the state would benefit from natural, herbal remedies (like kratom) available for purchase to help offset the exponentially-growing medical costs within the region.
Monroe County Takes a Stand for Kratom
Even though several local government officials within Mississippi appear to be working against their constituents’ best interests, one particular county had a change of heart. Monroe County had previously banned kratom last year—the ordinance went into effect on April 1st, 2019. But the Monroe County Board of Supervisors voted to rescind the ban at the beginning of June 2020. And the ban was lifted after a 3-2 vote in support of it.
The county supervisors were willing to vote again on the matter after receiving an outcry from an ardent community that felt hoodwinked by last year’s ban. Those kratom advocates helped to mold the discussion with scientific evidence and heartfelt testimonies on how the kratom plant assisted those consumers with chronic pain conditions and other ailments. Following the reversal of the kratom ban in Monroe County, we can only hope that a grass-roots movement has begun that will sweep over all the other municipalities within Mississippi. It would be nice to see those governments do what is best for its citizens for a change.