DATE: October 29, 2014
MEDIA CONTACT: Kimberly Maroe, Public Information Manager
Broward County Board of County Commissioners
BROWARD COUNTY, FL – Broward County Commissioners decided not to ban the sales of the herbal drug Kratom, opting instead to further study use of the substance and wait until a study conducted by the University of Mississippi is complete.
Commissioners deferred an amended ordinance that would prohibit the sales, giving away, offer, advertisement for sale or public display for sale of Kratom, saying they didn’t have enough definitive information about the drug to make a policy decision that would ban the substance in Broward County.
Commissioner Kristin Jacobs brought the issue forward. “So the preponderance of evidence that's out there, what's happening in our community, is that Kratom is a highly addictive drug. The fact that you don't know about it doesn't mean that that's not so. The fact that those that are using it will tell you that it's not addictive and they can get off at any time, that's the voice of addiction telling you that. This is a dangerous drug that's finding replacement because oxycodone pill mill clinics have been shut down. We have shut down bath salts and synthetic marijuana and this is yet another example of that,” said Jacobs.
Commissioners listened to public testimony from those for and against banning Kratom.
“I think we need more time to investigate and review this and begin to get input from the community,” said Commissioner Lois Wexler. “There’s a depth of information to wade through before we make a policy decision on this.”
“Anything in excess can have consequences. I don’t have enough information about this to know if it is beneficial or not. If there is a ban it should be statewide. This is rushed,” noted Commissioner Stacy Ritter.
“I think law enforcement and court costs have to be taken into consideration when we talk about banning a substance. I am a nurse practitioner. I've been working in the medical profession for twenty-two years and I can tell you that over the last couple of years, we've seen more incidences of problems with people using bath salts. Kratom has not really been an issue, and so to call it an epidemic, I think is a bit disingenuous. I’m not in support of a ban on Kratom at this point in time for that reason,” said Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief.
“I would like to wait until the end of the year to see what the University Of Mississippi study comes up with, which is an objective study. If they come out with the study that says that Kratom is a dangerous substance then at that time I would like to ban it, but right now, I don’t know enough,” said Commissioner Martin David Kiar.
“We didn't have the information to make a sound judgment and I concur with those that say that the time is not now. We need to wait for the Mississippi study to be finished and know whether or not it is something valid or something not valid,” said Commissioner Sue Gunzburger.
“It is a genuine concern for the community. It doesn't appear that we're going to have the votes to move this forward, and I think the discussion has been helpful. I think, yes, we probably will need to get more studies done to be certain as to the true effects of this, and what I probably suggest we do is find some way to support more studies in this area and add this to our legislative agenda,” recommended Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness, who co-sponsored the amended ordinance.
In Florida, Sarasota County is the only county to ban Kratom. In 2012, Broward Commissioners banned the sales of synthetic cannabinoid herbal incense and contraband bath salts.