New law in Concordia Parish bans Kratom sales parish-wide

Published 2:59 pm Tuesday, April 25, 2023

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VIDALIA, La. — The Concordia Parish Police Jury on Monday passed a new ordinance banning the sale of Kratom in the whole parish and joining other Louisiana parishes to do so.

Kratom is an herbal supplement derived from a tree grown in Southeast Asia.

Some compare it to opioids and claim it relieves pain and can be used to substitute harmful drugs, while others claim its addictiveness and potential to cause overdoses outweigh any benefit.

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The new law makes violators punishable by a fine of $500 or imprisoned for no more than six months or both for the first offense and $1,000 or imprisoned for no more than six months or both for the second offense.

All subsequent offenses are punishable with a $1,500 fine or imprisonment for no more than six months or both. Licensed businesses that violate may also have their business license suspended in the parish in addition to the other penalties.

In August, Ascension Parish became the first in Louisiana to ban the sale of Kratom in stores and now Concordia Parish joins others following suit.

Police jury members said Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office requested it.

“Apparently, there have been a lot of issues,” said Police Jury President Collin Edwards. “The sheriff’s department came to us and asked us about this because people are getting on (Kratom) and they can’t do anything about it.”

Other police jury members said the product surfaced in the parish about three months ago and had been sold in a drink or tablet form.

“It makes you hallucinate, causes memory loss and in high doses, it’s some bad stuff,” said Gary Neal, police jury member of Ward 4-B.

“I am very pleased with the Concordia Parish Police Jury’s decision to ban the sale of Kratom in Concordia Parish,” Sheriff David Hedrick said. “Kratom is an unregulated substance that is being sold to our young people over the counter in many stores and vape shops. If by passing this ordinance we can save one life, I consider it to be extremely successful.

“I pledged to the people of Concordia Parish that I would do everything possible to keep the children of our parish safe. I would like to thank the Police Jury for understanding the seriousness of this drug and for voting favorably for the ordinance that I requested to ban the sale of Kratom in the parish.”

A U.S. Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration fact sheet produced in 2020 states that the substance’s leaves contain both mitragynine and 7-hydroxymytragynine which can cause psychotic activity.

Louisiana lawmakers are currently deciding whether to ban the substance statewide.

In 2019, the Louisiana legislature approved a bill making the substance illegal if the DEA regulates it. However, that hasn’t happened.

Currently, no laws except those passed by local governments in Louisiana have prevented the substance from being sold at smoke shops or convenience stores. However, current law prohibits the sale of products containing mitragyna speciosa (Kratom) to minors.

Lawmakers are reviewing HB14 submitted by Louisiana State Representative Michael Firment to repeal the present law and add mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine to the list of Schedule I narcotics unless the herb is contained in a pharmaceutical product.

“Today, (Tuesday) the Louisiana Legislative Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice voted favorably in committee to have a statewide ban on the sale of Kratom,” Hedrick said.