Zachary City Council Votes Unanimously to Ban Kratom

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Sign showing “Welcome to Zachary” a town in Louisiana that banned kratom.

When Louisiana ‘settled’ its kratom question during the last legislative session, it carved out a hole in the law for local exceptions

Now, the city of Zachary is walking through that carve-out and moving forward with an ordinance to ban kratom. Despite opposition from local residents and little reasoning for such a ban, the city council voted unanimously to approve the measure to ban the sale and possession of kratom within city limits. 

The vote came down after a heated council meeting last month. Despite back-and-forth over online threats, the role of kratom as a dietary supplement and the same outdated information that failed to enact a ban at the state level, no new reasoning was provided by the council for such a ban, nor was there any anecdotal information given from local happenings to warrant such policy. 

Providing Solutions Without Problems

Instead, the majority of comments against kratom were centered on whether or not kids should have access to kratom and the perception of kratom being marketed for anything more than personal use. 

The only issue is that what DID pass in Louisiana was an age restriction for purchasing kratom, which is now state law. In addition, kratom is only legal to be marketed and used as a dietary supplement in America, and advocates at the American Kratom Association have gone out of their way to try and take action against bad actors who are advertising otherwise. 

That was the argument made by AKA executive director Ryan Burroughs, who told the council that proper labeling and a monitored market for adults was the safest option for regulating kratom. 

“Banning kratom is wrong. This council will make criminals out of your constituents, of which I’m sure many are veterans,” he said. “Banning this substance does not make your problem go away. Proper regulation is the only way to control this and force these bad vendors out of the marketplace.” 

The motives of the council members quickly became clear as Mayor Pro Tem Ambre DeVirgilio immediately remarked about the council having its first lobbyist from Washington D.C. in its chamber. DeVirgilio moved to ask if Paul Pelosi Jr. had previously served in his position, then asked if he worked with Mac Haddow, a senior fellow with the AKA. 

At a hearing for whether or not kratom would remain available in one local Louisiana parish, the head of the city council then asked if Haddow had made $1.5 million since 2016, a question Burroughs said he did not even know how to answer. 

Burroughs held to the facts that the AKA has presented in state houses across the country in the face of questions about his background. He did his best to make the stance of his consumer organization clear: The science supports regulated access to kratom as the best measure to control the risks associated with the plant. 

Local Residents Ask Council to “Be Smart”

Beyond Burroughs, local residents testified about the value kratom has added to their daily routine and questioned the motives of those seeking to ban the plant. As Burroughs predicted, a number of people testifying in support of kratom identified as veterans and told the council they were worried about how criminalizing kratom would affect them. 

“Do not ban it. If you want to regulate, let’s regulate it but be smart about it,” said one man who testified. “Why would we ban something that nobody knows about, that most people who are trying to push the ban have no clue about, but it gives them something to say they banned.” 

The reactions by the council members varied from commenter to commenter but did contain a few bizarre moments. A local store owner testified about the online harassment by both sides and condemned it, only to be grilled by DeVirgilio about his online association with individuals who had posted hateful messages. 

Later, a commenter tried to address the claims that supporters of kratom were just in it for the money.

“We talk about the kratom industry as a $1.3 billion industry–my wife owns a kratom company,” he said. “You know what she makes? She’s negative $12,000 in her company.” 

But he said that both he and his wife had seen the effect that kratom could have on those around him as a daily dietary supplement. He had used kratom to help find a better routine in his own life, and when his wife saw that she was willing to make it her life’s job to give other people a similar natural option. 

Even if it wasn’t turning the profit some would suggest, the idea of helping people get safe access to kratom made it worth it. 

“I’ll take that as a victory.” 

In response, councilwoman DeVirgilio named his wife, identified her store and pointed out that the Limited Liability Corporation in her name had a questionable name without making a further point. Despite the contentious nature of the dialogue, commenters were adamant in their stance that kratom should be legal and sold in a regulated matter. 

Despite the ordinance officially passing at the meeting a month ago, the official wording and enforcement policies of the measure are still not available on the website of the mayor. 

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