WEATHER AUTHORITY : Flood Advisory View Alerts

Analysis: Mississippi considers limit on drug called kratom

Mississippi legislators are debating whether to either regulate or ban kratom, an herbal drug that can be used for pain relief and that is currently unregulated in most parts of the United States.

Posted: Mar 1, 2020 7:32 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi legislators are debating whether to either regulate or ban kratom, an herbal drug that can be used for pain relief and that is currently unregulated in most parts of the United States.

Spectators packed a large room at the state Capitol on Thursday for a hearing about the drug.

On one side of the room sat physicians, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agents, recovering drug addicts and others who took turns telling lawmakers that kratom is harmful and should be illegal.

On the other side sat people wearing bright green stickers with the slogan: “Kratom saves lives.” They advocated keeping kratom legal but regulating it to ensure that it's not mixed with controlled substances and that it's not sold to minors.

Kratom is derived from a tree that's native to Southeast Asia. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency says the leaves can be crushed and then smoked, put into capsules or taken with water or other liquids.

“At low doses, kratom produces stimulant effects with users reporting increased alertness, physical energy, and talkativeness. At high doses, users experience sedative effects. Kratom consumption can lead to addiction," says a DEA website that lists kratom among the agency's “drugs of concern.”

The DEA says people have used kratom to relieve muscle strains and as a substitute for opium; the drug has also been used to manage withdrawal symptoms from opioids.

As of 2018, kratom was illegal in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The group said Illinois and Louisiana ban the sale of kratom to minors.

Some confusion has existed about the Tennessee law that banned possession of a synthetic form of kratom. In 2017, the Tennessee attorney general's office said kratom in its "natural botanical form" is not a controlled substance.

Bills filed in Mississippi this year would make kratom illegal. Tuesday is the deadline for House and Senate committees to consider those. Any bill could be rewritten to do what the American Kratom Association is requesting — to set regulations on the drug rather than making it illegal.

Senate Drug Policy Committee Chairman David Jordan, a Democrat from Greenwood, said Friday that he expects legislators to regulate kratom, but he does not know if there are enough votes to ban it.

Jordan is a retired high school chemistry teacher, and he said he worries about substances that people put into their bodies.

“We, as legislators, have got to try to protect the three million people in this state — certainly, the younger people who are trying to get a quick high,” Jordan said.

A few Mississippi cities and counties have banned kratom.

Former Mississippi House Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden of Meridian, a Republican who was defeated in 2019, is now a registered lobbyist for the American Kratom Association.

One kratom supporter who spoke at the Capitol is Brandon resident Kathy Joiner, 68, who said she uses it to relieve arthritis pain, and that allows her to enjoy time with her granddaughter. Joiner said she does not like to go to doctors and she does not want to get into what she considers a “trap” of taking prescription drugs.

“I don't need them to make this decision for me,” Joiner said of lawmakers. “This is my body, my choice.”

Dr. Randy Easterling of Vicksburg is a past president of the Mississippi State Medical Association, and he treats people who have drug addiction. He said Mississippi should not allow the sale of kratom.

“I don't represent any group today but the one group, and that's the thousands and thousands of patients that I've treated over the last 40 years,” Easterling said. “The last number of years, more and more of those have come in for kratom addiction. I've hospitalized patients with kratom addiction. I've helped them through withdrawal.”

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 308737

Reported Deaths: 7139
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20931250
Hinds19961410
Harrison17562303
Rankin13369277
Jackson13156243
Madison9950212
Lee9890170
Jones8310161
Forrest7542148
Lauderdale7221237
Lowndes6289144
Lamar613384
Lafayette6072117
Washington5291133
Bolivar4776129
Oktibbeha457197
Panola4458103
Pearl River4437141
Warren4299119
Marshall4286102
Pontotoc417572
Monroe4062132
Union404675
Neshoba4005176
Lincoln3886109
Hancock373385
Leflore3471124
Sunflower331589
Tate325384
Pike3215105
Scott311472
Yazoo305069
Alcorn299465
Itawamba297877
Copiah293965
Coahoma290479
Simpson289586
Tippah285168
Prentiss276659
Marion266279
Leake261773
Wayne261541
Grenada256484
Covington255280
Adams246982
Newton245761
George238547
Winston226081
Tishomingo222567
Jasper220048
Attala213673
Chickasaw205457
Holmes187172
Clay183254
Stone179733
Clarke177776
Tallahatchie176140
Calhoun165431
Yalobusha160136
Smith159334
Walthall131043
Greene129633
Lawrence126623
Noxubee126534
Montgomery125742
Perry125238
Carroll120926
Amite120741
Webster113832
Jefferson Davis105532
Tunica103225
Claiborne101330
Benton97525
Kemper95628
Humphreys94632
Franklin82923
Quitman78916
Choctaw73917
Wilkinson65128
Jefferson64828
Sharkey49817
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 521623

Reported Deaths: 10739
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754061493
Mobile39067799
Madison34040496
Tuscaloosa25367444
Montgomery24019567
Shelby23186239
Baldwin20701302
Lee15589165
Calhoun14342311
Morgan14158271
Etowah13685346
Marshall11995220
Houston10404278
Elmore10011200
Limestone9852147
Cullman9503189
St. Clair9463234
Lauderdale9265228
DeKalb8757181
Talladega8115171
Walker7139275
Jackson6756110
Autauga6750103
Blount6519134
Colbert6229130
Coffee5424113
Dale4772111
Russell430038
Franklin420782
Chilton4101109
Covington4061114
Tallapoosa3907146
Escambia390174
Dallas3525149
Chambers3514122
Clarke347060
Marion3072100
Pike306176
Lawrence295995
Winston273172
Bibb256059
Marengo248361
Geneva246075
Pickens233259
Barbour226455
Hale218575
Butler212967
Fayette209460
Henry188044
Cherokee182644
Randolph177241
Monroe172540
Washington165238
Macon155648
Clay150155
Crenshaw149457
Cleburne146741
Lamar139734
Lowndes136553
Wilcox124427
Bullock121640
Conecuh109428
Perry107626
Sumter103232
Coosa99428
Greene91434
Choctaw58824
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 56°
Columbus
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 55°
Oxford
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 52°
Starkville
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 54°
Some spotty showers will move through our area this morning but should clear out by the afternoon. We should see some breaks in the clouds and temperatures reaching the mid to upper 60s.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather