March 8, 2019 10:31:26 AM
Slim Smith - [email protected]
Thursday, Caledonia Mayor Mitch Wiggins provided notice to stores in town of a new ordinance banning the sale or possession of Kratom, which is commonly sold in convenience stores as a pain relief/energy supplement.
It didn't take long.
"There's only one store in town limits that sells Kratom," Wiggins said. "The store will have ample time, five-to-10 days, to remove it."
Wiggins said the town's board of aldermen unanimously approved the ordinance Tuesday banning Kratom, a product made from a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia that advocates say is a legitimate source of pain relief while opponents contend the product is potentially addictive.
A citizen-based task force appeared before the board asking for the ban.
Caledonia is the second municipality to pass an ordinance banning the sale and possession of Kratom. Columbus councilmen passed a similar ordinance in February. Lowndes County supervisors will hold a public hearing on a ban on March 15. Board president Harry Sanders expects the supervisors to approve a ban as well.
"That's what we'll probably do," Sanders said. "I'm a little surprised that Caledonia didn't hold a public hearing before they passed an ordinance. That's seems like the right way to do it."
Wiggins said aldermen considered holding a public hearing, but where told by the town's attorney, Chris Hemphill, that it was not required.
"Normally, with ordinances, we keep it on the table for 30 days to allow people to weigh in on it," Wiggins said. "In this case, our attorney informed us that wasn't required because it was a public health risk. In the end, the aldermen decided to pass the ordinance and make it effective immediately, which was March 5."
Under ordinance, the sale or possession of a Kratom product is subject to a fine of up to $1,000, a jail term up to six months or both.
Although Sanders is in favor of approving a ban in the county and believes a ban has the support of the majority of supervisors, he does not believe it's the best way to handle to issue.
"To me, this is something that should be done on the state level," he said. "The Legislature should be doing this instead of leaving it up to every little town in the state."
Senate Bill 2475, authored by Angela Hill (R-Picayune), died in the judiciary committee during the current session.
Although there is no federal law banning Kratom, seven states have banned the product while New Jersey and New York have pending legislation regarding a ban.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]