By Alyssa Schnugg
Businesses in Lafayette County selling synthetic opioids, like Kratom, will now have to remove those products from their shelves.
On Monday, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors approved a new ordinance that prohibits the use, purchase, possession, distribution, sale of synthetic opioids.
The Mitragyna Speciosa tree, from which Kratom is derived, 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, synthetic versions in the form of pills, tablets, liquids and gum are now sold online, at gas stations, tobacco stores and other businesses. Proponents of Kratom claim that it is a helpful alternative for those trying to beat addictions to prescription painkillers or heroin.
While some studies show some medical benefits from 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.
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.
The Oxford Board of Aldermen approved a similar ordinance in August 2019.
The ordinance, submitted by Sheriff Joey East, states that “a review of the scientific literature and the reports of law enforcement and health officials reveals that the effects of these substances are a health concern to the citizens of Lafayette County.”
The ordinance does not apply to anyone who uses such products under the direction or prescription of a duly licensed physician or dentist authorized to direct or prescribe such an act. It also does not apply to the inhalation of anesthesia for a medical or dental purpose administered under the supervision of a duly licensed physician or dentist.
If the products are found in stores, the sheriff’s department will confiscate the products and anyone charged with violation of the ordinance can be charged with a misdemeanor crime that carries up to a $1,000 fine and no more than six months in county jail.