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Orland Park bans ‘gas station heroin’

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Orland Park resident Michael Fasano said that using kratom has helped his health during a village board meeting on April 15. Photo by Jeff Vorva

By Jeff Vorva

Products with what some people call “gas station heroin” will not be allowed to be sold in Orland Park.

At the April 15 meeting, the village board voted 6-0 (with trustee Michael Milani absent) to prohibit kratom novel synthetic and psychoactive drug businesses to be sold in the village.

“If this has medicinal benefits, it should go through the (Food and Drug Administration) and it should be sold in pharmacies, like anything else,” Mayor Keith Pekau said of kratom. “Not gas stations or other locations. We need to be ahead of it.

“Instead of letting doctors do this, we’re going to allow the Mobil station and BP and Circle K to sell it? I don’t think so. We need to stay on top of this.”

He said that the product is not allowed to be sold to those underage, but that past practices have shown that products banned to young consumers still find a way into their hands.

“We’re going to protect our kids,” Pekau said. “This is absolutely 100% a no-brainer.”

According to a presentation from Village Manager George Koczwara, kratom is known as “gas station heroin” and has opioid-like properties and that “individuals addicted to kratom exhibit psychotic symptoms including hallucinations, delusion and confusion.”

He said the FDA has not approved it for medical use and the Drug Enforcement Administration has listed it as a “drug and chemical of concern.”

There were those who spoke up at the Committe of the Whole meeting before the main meeting for keeping kratom in the village.

James Sourak of TopExtracts in Lisle told the board it needed more information before voting.

“Table the decision for now while the state of Illinois looks to pass the Kratom Consumer Protection Act, which is in legislation right now,” he said. “I think it would address most of your concerns. There will be an age limit and there will be a way to hold manufacturers accountable.

“To blanket ban it without understanding how the herb works I think is a mistake.”

Michael Fasano of Orland Park said that he uses it for health reasons and that it has helped him.

“It’s helped with my sleeping, and it’s helped with my pain,” he said. “It is not a synthetic drug. I’m a healthy young man. I work as an implementation specialist. I’ve used kratom on and off since 2008 and my bloodwork is fantastic.”

Orland Fire Protection District Chief Michael Schofield, who has been on a crusade against heroin and opioids since 2010, praised the village board before the vote for considering this action.

“Some people find it hard to do the right thing,” he said. “Or being the first to do it. Or leading the fight to do the right thing. This board here has proven they are never afraid to do the right thing.

“This ordinance is the right thing to do to protect our community and our youth from synthetic drugs that are being manufactured. Kratom is an addictive substance. It should be considered a controlled substance.”

He said that kratom has been banned in six states in the United States – including Indiana and Wisconsin – and in 32 countries.

No movement with D135

School Districts 135 and 230 have threatened to sue the village over Tax Increment Financing money. Pekau said that during a recent 230 meeting, the decision was tabled so it appears that 135 is alone in this pursuit.

The village said it has made several proposals over the years and reached out one more time in recent weeks but has not heard a response back.

“It’s a minimum of $3.6 million that we’re offering and they are suing for, what, $500,000?” Pekau said. “That makes no sense to me.”

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Misty Brown on April 23, 2024 at 3:09 pm

    I am very proud of the Kratom advocates that showed up and showed out even though the council members didn’t listen and had their minds made up. Our dare those elected officials not listen to their constituents. Shame on them.



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