Yesterday, October 28, 2014, was a no-holds-barred defeat for outgoing Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs in her crusade to ban the kratom tree in Broward County, Florida. Democrat Jacobs is running to be District 96’s Florida State Representative against write-in candidate Ronald Bray. Although it is hardly a contest for Jacobs to be heading to Tallahassee, those wishing to see her defeated will need to make certain they spell Bray’s name correctly on their ballots for them to be counted against Jacobs. Libertarian Party members were at the commission meeting to speak against the proposed ban.
Kratom is a popular tree of the coffee family which helps people with illnesses and helps people recover from opiate addiction. It is also a quality, natural painkiller and is often used for menstrual cramps and other bodily discomforts. The leaf can be chewed directly from the plant, or it can be dried and crushed into a powder or tea.
Yesterday afternoon, in Broward County Commission chambers, a polite political fight took place with commissioners finding Jacobs’ proposal to ban the kratom tree as ridiculous as did most in attendance who spoke out against the ban. Perhaps the most aggressive lashing Jacobs received from her fellow commissioners was from Stacy Ritter who actually donated $250 to Jacob’s State Rep campaign. Sounding like a libertarian, Ritter’s remarks during the discussion period was of reason and stated “the ban doesn’t make sense.” Ultimately, Jacobs herself called for a continuance, rather than call for a vote on the ordinance. Some of the commissioners kept commenting that they would like to give Jacobs “this gift” (meaning their vote) for her last commission meeting; however, could not in good conscience do so. Broward County’s Medical Examiner, Dr. Mallak, was in attendance to answer questions from commissioners stating there have been no confirmed deaths in America which was a direct result of someone ingesting kratom. Dr. Mallak said, “More objective information is needed.” When asked if kratom is harmful, he answered, “We just don’t know.” This was during a line of questioning regarding an upcoming study by the University of Mississippi on kratom and its affects on humans. An earlier paper from the University found that it could be an effective means for people to get off hard drugs and prescription drugs. Jacobs attacked Mallak during a long speech, which included attacks against her fellow commissioners, for not going along with her crusade as she is convinced kratom kills people. She besmirched Dr. Mallak’s character and qualifications stating that other commissioners were taking the word of someone who only works on “dead people.” Later, Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief brought things back to reality and had Dr. Mallak explain he has worked on thousands of living people and explained, in depth, how kratom affects human’s opiode receptors, along with other useful information. But Jacobs was hearing none of it, and continued her tirade against the rest of the commission who were prepared to vote against her if she continued to push for the ordinance. Jacobs ultimately chose not to force the issue and motioned for a continuance, which basically states the issues is dead until a commissioner brings it up for a future Broward County Commission meeting.
Jacobs sprung into action three weeks ago after hearing about the death of Ian Mautner in Palm Beach County who had kratom in his system along with other prescription drugs. The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner did not find that kratom was at fault for the death of Mr. Mautner; however, that did not deter Jacobs who, absent of facts, charged ahead basing the ban on pure speculation and emotion. Ultimately, other Broward County commissioners spoke with reason rather than emotion, which is what most residents would prefer to see on a more frequent basis from their elected officials.
Brian Albert was one of many speakers said, “It’s not about the sober community. It’s about using it for its benefits. Andrew Neff said he’s been “drinking kratom for five years everyday and has had no withdrawals. It’s getting completely slanted in the media.” Neff had mentioned earlier that he would not ingest kratom from time to time for financial reasons.
Jacobs has a long history of creating mythical hysteria where there is none. She is famous for her continual opposition of what she referred to as “Lexus Lanes” – the pay express lanes found on I-95 and 595. Her “Lexus Lane” theory has been thoroughly debunked by Broward County’s own MPO. Should she win the general election on November 4, 2014, she is likely to bring the subject up again to ban the kratom tree statewide as one of the six bills she can introduce.
Jacob’s proposed ordinance would have made it illegal in the county for an individual or business in Broward County to sell or give as a gift, the kratom tree. Jacobs has found a friend with the media who are quick to sensationalize the plant as deadly when no evidence exists for such claims. While Mautner’s death is tragic, his parent’s quest to ban the kratom tree is misplaced. Some have said, that if aspirin or Tylenol was found in his system, would Ian’s mother be equally working to ban those products?