City should study substance, lean on fed recommendations

Published 7:38 pm Thursday, November 21, 2019

We doubt many of you have heard of kratom, the substance found in energy supplements sold in convenience stores.

We had not before a member of the Lowndes County Community Foundation’s Crime and Addiction Task Force came to Brookhaven to talk about the substance’s dangers.

Eddie Hawkins, a lieutenant with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics with 25 years of drug enforcement experience, said he is afraid of what might happen if the substance is left unchecked.

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Joined by Taskforce Chairman Glenn Lautzenhiser and Dr. Charles Rhea, a Columbus orthopedic surgeon, Hawkins asked the city Tuesday to consider passing a ban on kratom —which 12 counties and 27 cities have already done, he said.

“This is destroying lives. It’s destroying families. It’s highly addictive and it’s actually killing people in our state,” he said. “Thirteen people died last year from a kratom overdose. It’s the best kept drug secret that we have today.”

Not everyone agrees that the substance is harmful, and federal regulation of kratom is on hold so the public can comment on it. Some people believe the substance has powerful medicinal value and should not be banned.

It’s doubtful Brookhaven leaders will move to ban kratom soon, given that the federal government is still undecided on the matter. But the board should remain open to the possibility. It should seek input from those who believe it is not harmful, and should also lean heavily on the federal government’s future recommendations.

If the substance is as dangerous as Hawkins believes, children should not have access to it.

There is always a danger in government over-stepping its bounds when it comes to telling adults what they can or can’t do. But with children, it’s different. We need our government, locally and on the state and federal levels, to work to protect those who cannot protect themselves.