By Alyssa Schnugg
Products sold in Oxford gas stations and alternative medicine stores will now have to remove Kratom products from their shelves after the Board of Aldermen approved a ban on synthetic products claiming to contain Kratom, a tree from Southeast Asia, with leaves that contain compounds that can have mind-altering effects.
A public hearing was held Tuesday evening during the aldermen’s regular meeting; however, no one spoke out for or against the new policy.
The Board generally has three readings for ordinances with one public hearing during the second reading. By state law, they must hold the two readings and public hearing although the Board’s policy is to have three readings for most ordinances. However, if the Board finds that the ordinance is of interest to the public’s health and safety, they can elect to vote after the public hearing during the second reading, which is what occurred Tuesday with the Kratom ban ordinance.
Oxford Police Interim Chief Jeff McCutchen told the Board Tuesday that the problem with the unregulated synthetic products is that there is no true way to know what it is actually in the product and how much Kratom the product contains.
“In April of this year we had a death where Kratom was a contributing factor,” he told the board.
While most ordinances go into effect 30 days after approval, the board also voted to waive the 30-day period for health and safety concerns.
The Mitragyna Speciosa tree, where Kratom comes from, has been used in Southeast Asia for hundreds of years to relieve pain. The leaves are often chewed or crushed and brewed as a tea. However, now synthetic versions in the form of pills, tablet, liquids and gum are being sold online and at gas stations, tobacco stores and other businesses.
Trade names selling the synthetic Kratom include Krathom, Kakuam, Ketum, Kratum, Ithang, Thang, Thom, Biak, Biak-Biak, Mambog, Super K, Life Force K, K-Chill, Herbal Speedball, K-shot and others.
Itawamba, Union, Monroe, Lowndes, Alcorn and Tishomingo counties have banned the substance, as have the cities of Fulton, New Albany, Mantachie and Pontotoc.
While some studies may show medical benefits of the plant itself, the Federal Drug Administration says the synthetic products being sold over the counter have not been proven to have any known medical benefits.
The entire ordinance amendment can be viewed online on the city’s website.