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Legal supplement raising concerns for officials in Livingston Parish

1 year 6 months 3 weeks ago Wednesday, December 21 2022 Dec 21, 2022 December 21, 2022 9:40 PM December 21, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

LIVINGSTON PARISH - The Mayo Clinic calls it an herb that treats pain, but officials are calling it a problem.

The legal substance known as kratom is being sold in stores across the country, but soon, it may not be found in Livingston Parish. An ordinance prohibiting kratom was set to be introduced at Wednesday night's council meeting.

The sales will continue on as council members decided to defer the discussion until their January meeting.

Stores that carry the product say they don't see a reason for the ban.

"Kratom, like I said, is a natural plant. At the end of the day, it's a plant-based out of India. They have it in liquid form, powder form," Mark Kassim said.

Kassim is the owner of Smoke Stop in Denham Springs. He says it's something they sell a lot of, mostly as a pain reliever.

"Any kind of painkillers, this would be the plant-based replacement for it, remedy for it," Kassim said.

"A lot of people like taking it because it gets them through the day. It helps them work. It helps them sleep at night. I have people come in and say they are trying to get off on addiction of opioids," employee Dearron Capling said.

The ordinance prohibiting kratom was drafted by council members Jeff Ard and Tracy Girlinghouse.

Girlinghouse declined to comment on the specifics of the ordinance or why it is necessary. He did say it's coming from a request from the sheriff's office and showed WBRZ three ordinances they are basing their own on.

In Radnor, Pennsylvania, a city ordinance bans the sale of kratom near schools, daycares, and playgrounds. In Rapides Parish, it is illegal to be in possession of or sell. Most recently, Ascension Parish banned the sale of kratom in August.

Kratom is also banned in six states. In Alabama, officials classified it in the same drug class as heroin. The FDA issued a warning because of its morphine-like properties.

Others say it is a safer alternative to addictive opioids.

"The product getting banned from stores is not going to stop customers from getting this product. They can go online and order it. It's not illegal to have, obtain, or possess. So what sense would it make?" Kassim questioned.

WBRZ reached out to the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office to find out why they requested the ban.

In a statement, Sheriff Jason Ard said: "Discussions continue in Livingston Parish about kratom. It's being used to enhance other drugs. We're concerned about overdoses and deaths here in our parish. We will continue working with our local leaders to be proactive and to do what's in the best interest of our citizens and the families who call Livingston Parish home."

Other law enforcement sources we spoke with either did not know what we were talking about or said they have not had any reportable run-ins with the substanceincluding overdoses.

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