Once legal for citizens to freely buy anywhere in Louisiana, kratom has recently faced an onslaught of attacks. Earlier this year, several individual parishes (their equivalent of a county) banned kratom. These bans came in spite of the personal testimonies from Louisiana kratom supporters. Many argued that pure kratom itself is not a threat but a beneficial plant that has helped their wellbeing and should be regulated—not criminalized.
Now, on Tuesday, May 2, the Louisiana House and Senate will vote on a bill that would make kratom a Schedule I Narcotic. If this bill passes, hundreds, if not thousands, of kratom consumers in Louisiana could face felony charges and jail time if caught with kratom in their possession. While kratom supporters across the country are horrified and devastated by this possibility, other residents, law enforcement officers, and legislators are still wondering, “What is kratom?”
Given all of the fearmongering and misinformation surrounding the plant, it’s no surprise that lawmakers could find themselves pressed with a hasty decision that could affect thousands of residents. But why are legislators trying to ban kratom in Louisiana? What can supporters do to try to stop the Louisiana kratom ban? Let’s find out.
Is Kratom Legal in Louisiana? Where is Kratom Banned in Louisiana?
While kratom is currently legal in all but six states, there are some counties and cities that have banned kratom in the US. Although the state of Louisiana is now considering making kratom illegal, it wasn’t until August of 2022 that any parish in Louisiana banned kratom. However, in 2022, local anti-kratom bills made their way in front of officials and caused a stir. This led three Louisiana parishes to ban kratom.
Ascension Parish Kratom Ban
On August 18, 2022, Ascension Parish became the first parish to ban kratom in Louisiana. Ascension Parish Councilman Michael Mason said that the original proposal aimed to restrict kratom possession and consumption, but they decided to only focus only on restricting kratom sales instead. During the Council meetings leading up to the vote, people from both anti-kratom and pro-kratom stances got to speak.
In regard to the testimonies, Councilman Mason said, “I noticed that people who were pro-kratom would show up to all the meetings and say the same thing. ‘In its purest form, it does a lot of great good’. Which I’m sure it does. We’re not arguing that fact, but what we’re saying we have in Ascension Parish is obviously not its purest form.”
So, even though Ascension Parish did vote to ban kratom sales, residents were spared from legal consequences for kratom possession. This is likely thanks to the pro-kratom voices advising that pure leaf kratom isn’t the problem; it’s adulterated and concentrated kratom products. Part of the problem, however, was that most of the pro-kratom voices came from outside Ascension Parish, as these Louisiana residents had good reason to fear that a kratom ban in Ascension Parish could result in a series of bans elsewhere in the state.
Rapides Parish Kratom Ban
As Louisiana kratom advocates feared, Ascension Parish’s decision to ban kratom did have an effect on other parts of the state. A few months later, on October 10, 2022, the Rapides Parish Police Jury unanimously voted to pass two ordinances against kratom. One banned the sale of kratom in Rapides Parish, and the other, unlike the Ascension Parish ban, also banned the possession of kratom in the parish.
The ban took effect immediately on October 10, meaning that anyone caught selling or possessing kratom could face up to a $500 fine or six months in jail or harsher penalties if a repeat offender. Due to the immediacy of the vote, any kratom vendors in Rapides Parish had one day to dispose of any kratom in their possession or pack up and move elsewhere.
Concordia Parish Kratom Ban
On Tuesday, April 25, 2023, The Concordia Parish Police Jury passed a new ordinance banning kratom sales parish-wide and urged other parishes to do the same. Of course, the decision was made hastily in keeping with a common trend amongst these local bands and had little to no basis in scientific evidence, facts, or basic kratom knowledge.
For example, Gary Neal, one of the Concordia Parish Police Jury members, stated that kratom “makes you hallucinate, causes memory loss, and in high doses, it’s some bad stuff,” which is just so baseless it’s laughable.
According to the new law, which Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office introduced, violators will face a fine of $500 and/or up to six months of imprisonment for the first offense. Repeat offenders and businesses found in violation will face higher fines and other penalties.
Other Louisiana Parishes and Kratom Legality
Although Ascension, Concordia, and Rapides are the only Louisiana Parishes that have banned kratom, at least two other parishes have considered making kratom illegal within their boundaries: St. Tammany Parish and Livingston Parish.
St. Tammany Parish Kratom Debate
In 2019, the Louisiana Legislature passed a bill that would make kratom illegal if the DEA ever decided to list it as a scheduled drug. However, Senator Patrick McMath, R-Covington, thought that the state should act on a kratom ban itself and discuss a kratom ban when the Legislature convenes on April 10, 2023.
In a statement very telling of his lack of kratom knowledge, McMath said that kratom “reminded him of bath salts.” Although armed with clearly very little knowledge of the Indonesian plant, McMath sent a letter asking the St. Tammany Parish Council to consider banning kratom sales locally, following the steps taken by the Ascension and Rapides parishes. McMath told the parish it could ban kratom locally before April.
Nevertheless, the effort didn’t get very far. Although one of the St. Tammany Council members, Marty Dean, was clearly against kratom—the parish did not vote to ban kratom locally.
Livingston Parish Kratom Committee Meeting
On January 12, 2023, Livingston Parish Council also discussed implementing a ban on kratom sales; Councilman Shane Mack said he would introduce a motion to ban kratom in the next council meeting on February 9, 2023. Sheriff Jason Ard (who receives campaign contributions from a company that sponsors a local rehabilitation center) and two deputies appeared at the next meeting to speak in favor of criminalizing kratom consumers.
While Mack and Councilman Randy Delatte favored a kratom ban, Mack’s motion to ban kratom sales was not seconded by any other committee members, who seemed more in favor of regulating kratom than banning its sales. So, in Livingston Parish, kratom remains legal to buy and possess. That is, as long as the current Louisiana kratom ban bill does not pass at the state level.
Louisiana Kratom Ban Bill 2023: Tuesday, May 2nd
On Tuesday, May 2, 2023, Louisiana’s Senate Committee on Judiciary will be considering Louisiana Senate Bill 94 (sponsored by Sen. Caleb Kleinpeter), which criminalizes kratom consumers. The Louisiana House of Representatives will also be considering House Bill 14 (submitted by Louisiana State Rep. Michael Firment and co-sponsored by Rep. Kathy Edmonston, who represents Ascension Parish), which also criminalizes kratom consumers.
If passed, these bills could be highly damaging to kratom consumers in Louisiana. However, the goal is to replace these bills with Louisiana House Bill 572, which would regulate kratom rather than ban it.
How to Help Stop a Ban on Kratom in Louisiana
If you want to fight against the Louisiana kratom bills, there are several things you can do. If you’re a Louisiana state resident, you need to act quickly. Out of state? Please try to spread the word as fast as possible—every share counts!
Pro-Kratom Rally on May 1For starters, there will be a pro-kratom rally Monday, May 1, 2023, from 11 am through 3 pm. Rally participants will meet at the front steps of the Capitol. The message is, “Kratom consumers are not criminals!”
Contact Louisiana State Legislators
The American Kratom Association (AKA) urges you to help stop the kratom ban by contacting Louisiana State legislators and sharing your personal story with as many Representatives as possible, as well as sending them the message “Don’t make me a felon.” The AKA urges kratom supporters to be respectful and stick to sharing why regulating kratom according to the Kratom Consumer Protection Act (KCPA) matters to them.
You can sign the form at the bottom of the AKA’s page, contact Louisiana State Representatives directly, and/or make a post sharing your story on representatives’ Facebook pages.
Every social media share, personal story, and signature makes a difference. Please don’t underestimate the power of the kratom community. After all, we prevented a federal kratom ban back in 2016 and helped protect kratom vendors from arrests in other states that have banned kratom.
Support Vendors Who Support Kratom Legality
As the topic of kratom regulation becomes more and more pressing, it’s essential to support kratom vendors who lab-test their products, support kratom regulation, and do their best to provide quality products with transparent labeling.
At Top Tree Herbs, we’re committed to fighting for the people’s rights to buy kratom in Louisiana, as well as any state in the US. If you want to stay up-to-date with the latest kratom news to help fight the cause, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter.