January 12, 2023
Citizens of Livingston Parish, vendors, and a representative from the American Kratom Association (AKA) gathered at a council meeting to discuss a proposed kratom ban ordinance.
The portion of the meeting discussing kratom, which councilman Tracy Girlinghouse called a “fact-finding mission”, lasted about 45 minutes. The council took comments from those in attendance, and asked them questions about their statements. Four people spoke against the ban, one woman had questions about the liability of those who might be injured by kratom, and an EMS worker expressed concern that policy-making without careful consideration of the facts might make the existing drug overdose problem in the county worse.
Ryan Burroughs, executive director of the AKA spoke first. Sitting front and center and dressed in a suit and tie, Burroughs came to the podium with a prepared statement citing statements by senior members of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), and appealing council member to look at the science of kratom, and to regulate rather than ban kratom. He offered to meet further with the council to help develop a local Kratom Consumer Protection Act for Livingston Parish that would require vendors to test and label products to sell, unadulterated, to adults only.
Next Adam, a smoke shop owner from Baton Rogue, spoke about positive reviews of kratom he gets from his customers, as well as the frustration he has in finding authentic, clean product to sell.
Another kratom vendor and Livingston native, Paul Schexnaydre, spoke about his personal journey as a veteran with PTSD through opioid addiction before discovering kratom. Schexnaydre brought a vaccuum packed kilo and said that from LD50 studies, he believes it would take 3 kilos of plain leaf kratom to kill an adult. He expressed willingness to work with council to establish a maximum limit per day to sell to Livingston customers.
Though on the meeting agenda were the words “kratom prohibition ordinance”, Councilman Jeff Ard expressed willingness to pass safety regulations instead. “I think that’s what the majority of us is looking at, is some type of regulation,” he said. “I don’t really think we were just in here to straight up ban it. We wanted to gain knowledge on it, understand it.”
“To be clear, I’d never heard of it,” admitted Girlinghouse. “A week before this was coming to me, I saw it on a sign and said, ‘Kratom? What is that?'”
Councilman Shane Mack expressed concerns stemming from a Louisiana Department of Health report that compared kratom to LSD and heroin. “Being that it is possible…that somebody could hallucinate and take an action that wouldn’t be desired, that maybe this substance should be banned in Livingston Parish until the state or federal government can come out with some type of regulation…”.
“All of us know somebody who takes it on a regular basis,” added Councilman Garry Talbert, “and so, consequently, to ban it or make it hard to get, penalizes those who are utilizing it in the right way. It’s a shame that this country gets to the point that we let those who abuse a product dictate that those who use it properly don’t have access to it.”