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Police asks for kratom ban

Chief McCloud said the product is dangerous, shouldn’t be allowed in Batesville

By Jeremy Weldon

Following the lead of police departments around the country, Batesville Police Chief Jimmy McCloud will ask the Mayor and Board of Aldermen to pass an ordinance that will prohibit the sale and possession of products containing kratom.

McCloud said his department has been monitoring the kratom market in Batesville for several months with very little information gathered or known about its use among locals.

“Basically we are trying  to get ahead of a serious problem. Just because a product is legal in some places doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous, and I don’t think we need to have anything in Batesville that causes psychotic effects on people,” he said.

A member of the coffee family, kratom is an evergreen tree native to the tropical areas of Southeast Asia. It has been used as a traditional pain reliever in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea, for hundreds of years.

The ground up tree and its leaves have been used worldwide for anxiety, depression, a mild sedative and as help for patients with withdrawal symptoms from heroin and morphine. Users say it helps coughs, many medical professionals say it is dangerous and cause seizures, hallucinations,  and has mind-altering chemicals that can cause permanent nerve and brain damage.

If passed by aldermen, the ordinance would presumably take effect in 30 days and would apply only to businesses and individuals inside the city limits.

McCloud said he is not aware of kratom products being sold over the counter in Batesville, but added that the sheer number of products for sale at the city’s many convenience stores and other small outlets makes it difficult to track.

“We actually don’t  know what’s out there at this point. It’s like a chess game with law enforcement constantly trying to stay ahead of the people mixing these dangerous chemicals together and selling them to people who just don’t know what they are getting,” McCloud said. “Some people will buy products that promise things and have no idea what they are getting into. Just because you buy it from behind a glass counter doesn’t at all mean that it’s safe.”

Although most of the products sold over the counter that promote pain relief with CBD qualities, or synthetic marijuana agents, require the purchaser be 18 years old, police say parents should warn their children about the products.

Many are sold in packages with large marijuana leafs printed on the outside, advertising pain relief  and “herbal highs.” Because the products are sold on the open market, consumers  will sometimes purchase and use dangerous drugs believing they are approved by the Federal Drug Administration.

“The problem is that things move so fast and new products get on the market all the time. Years ago it was e-cigarettes that were supposed to help people quit smoking. Now we’re learning that the chemicals in those might be worse for a person than if they just smoked a regular cigarette. It’s the same thing with this kratom and products like it.”

The proposed ordinance drafted by City Attorney Colmon Mitchell is not expected to have any opposition when the board meets for a regular session at 2 p.m. today at City Hall.