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Mississippi lawmakers hearing evidence to ban Kratom in the 2023 legislative session.

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A supporter of the herbal supplement Kratom attends a Senate committee meeting at the Capitol in Jackson.
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Some Mississippi lawmakers are looking to pass legislation to totally ban Kratom in the 2023 legislative session. Kratom is an herbal drug used to treat pain, depression, and anxiety. But there are also advocates of Kratom who propose the responsible use of it in an unadulterated, pure form, and point to evidence of people using the drug as a safer alternative to more dangerous drugs like heroine, fentanyl, or morphine. 

Rhonda Dunaway

Mississippi lawmakers hearing evidence to ban Kratom in the 2023 legislative session.


Kratom is easily picked up at gas stations and can also be found in pipe and vape shops. Mississippi House Republican Lee Yancey wants to change that and ban such easy access to the supplement. He said he's seen evidence and heard from doctors, addiction specialists and law enforcement that Kratom is as addictive as opiates and has the same devastating effects on patients as opiates do.

"There are cases of people who are spending thousands of dollars per day because they are so addicted to it," Yancey says. "There's a case of someone dying from Kratom, so the state medical association strongly opposes any effort that would legitimize Kratom."

During a public hearing at the state capital, Mac Haddow, a paid advocate for the American Kratom Association, emphasized the safe use of the substance. He says Kratom should be regulated. He explained that the studies showing death from Kratom use are deaths that also had other drugs and substances in their systems. He said that Kratom does work on the same neuro-receptors in the brain as opiates, but that it does not interact in the neuro-systems that cause addiction. Citing studies from the National Institutes of Health and Drug Abuse, Haddow says Kratom can be used as an alternative to highly addictive drugs. He says that it saves lives because it has this property and he talked about the promising studies proving that what he says about Kratom is right.

"Based on the promising results that unadulterated kratom may provide help for some Americans struggling with addiction; using its analgesic and less addictive properties, as compared to opioids," Haddow says. He asks law makers to let the science dictate their decisions, and not the opinion of politicians.

Yancey said that 13 cities and 28 counties have already banned Kratom, and he wants to replace this patch-work legislation with a state-wide ban.