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Pearl River County leaders move toward banning kratom

Published: Dec. 27, 2021 at 6:30 PM CST
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POPLARVILLE, Miss. (WLOX) - Pearl River County leaders voted unanimously last week for an ordinance banning the sale of kratom.

Kratom comes from a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia and has been used as herbal medicine since at least the 19th century. It also has opioid properties and some stimulating effects.

It’s commonly sold in smoke shops and convenience stores, like at Pomp and Bees in Poplarville.

“I know that they’re trying to take it off the market, but I don’t think that they should,” Mary Labruzzo told WLOX.

Labruzzo is a store employee and said only taking half the pill helps with her arthritis and sciatic nerve.

“It just takes whatever pain that I have. It just mellows it out, and then it’s just, I feel good and I can move again,” she said. “Then I can come to work and perform my job the way it needs to be performed.”

However, other community members, like county deputy clerk Lauren Goar, are pushing for it to be prohibited.

“It’s affecting our communities just as much as any other drug or substance,” she said. “And not doing anything is completely hurting our communities.”

Goar tells WLOX she is a recovered addict from methamphetamines and alcohol and is now advocating against the sale of both kratom and Tianeptine, which is an ingredient found in energy shots.

While she said she has never tried kratom herself, she recognizes the effects it has on its users.

“If God can do it for me, I believe He can do it for other people, and I believe this substance is harmful to other people who are trying to recover from addiction,” she said.

Narcotics investigator Joe Garcia with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department fully backs the potential ordinance and said it’s a big deal to him.

“We’ve had a lot of problems with younger adults and kids with kratom,” he said. “You know, it kind of puts them out of their mind or has different effects to different people.”

Garcia said the county’s attorney is currently writing up the ordinance banning the two substances.

If it is ratified, both city governments in Pearl River County will have to pass the same or similar ordinances before it can be enforced.

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