Brookhaven medical marijuana dispensary makes history

Published 9:14 am Thursday, January 26, 2023

A Brookhaven medical marijuana dispensary made history Wednesday. The Cannabis Company was the first dispensary in Mississippi to sell medical marijuana.

The first patient to make a purchase was Debbie McDermott, who said, “I do suffer from chronic pain and I have some other issues.”

The afternoon sale was delayed by 2-1/2 hours after McDermott placed her order for the medicine. Officials say the delay was likely caused by communication problems in a point-of-sale system called METRC, a national company that tracks medical cannabis from seed to sale.

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Mitch Parker, co-owner of the dispensary on Brookway Boulevard, said he hated that a patient had to wait for her medicine like that.

“We have people in here who have been waiting for this medicine, you know, and have been for so long,” Parker said.

Co-owner Le Anne Penn said they had 21 customers Wednesday, which was “about what I had expected,” and Thursday looked to be “slammed” with customers from places such as Brandon, Madison and Hattiesburg, in addition to Brookhaven-area residents. The majority of local patients had seen Dr. Vicky McLean at New Vitality Medi Spa, also located on Brookway Boulevard.

“To my knowledge she is the only local doctor participating in the program,” Penn said.

Also on Wednesday, “boutique medical cannabis company” River Remedy began distributing medical marijuana to dispensaries across the state; and Hybrid Relief and Starbuds in Oxford made its first medical cannabis sale. The Cannabis Company receives its medical marijuana supply from Mockingbird Cannabis in Raymond.

“We have been working since 2018 to get medical marijuana in the hands of patients in Mississippi, and it’s surreal to see it finally come to fruition,” said Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association (3MA) Executive Director Ken Newburger. “This is only the beginning. More and more businesses will be harvesting, testing and getting their products on the shelves in the coming months; therefore, more patients will have access to this medicine at certified businesses all across the state.”

Approved patients can purchase 3.5 grams per day, six days a week, or about 3 ounces each month, and can keep up to 21 grams in their possession. Patients must first be determined to have a qualifying medical condition by a physician, nurse practitioner or optometrist who is participating in Mississippi’s medical cannabis program. Then, they must register for certification with the state’s cannabis program, then apply to the Medical Cannabis Program online. They will then receive an electronic identification card that can be used at licensed dispensaries.

The Cannabis Company celebrated its opening with a ribbon cutting and open house Thursday, prior to receipt of medical products.

“We are making history. This is a new industry and I know we will be a part of history. Fifty years from now they will see we are the first ones to have a permit here,” Penn said. “It has been fun. We have put in a lot of work and met some cool people.”

Parker said he has worked on building out the business space since August.

“It has been a fun journey. I have enjoyed it. The business will be different from what I was doing before,” Parker said. “I was a body technician for 40 years. I decided to pursue this because I saw the potential in the industry and the need in people. Hopefully this will help people who need it or can’t take opioids or other medicines.”

While people might have concerns about the cannabis dispensaries coming to Brookhaven, Parker voiced concerns about Mississippi’s regulation on THC concentrates. He said they are limiting the levels of THC in concentrates to 68 percent and he feels there might be some people who struggle with chronic pain who need a purer concentrate. Most of the cultivators and processors they are working with will use CBD to cut down the concentrates. He also hopes they can educate people.

“I have met with everyone we are dealing with. We want to know what they are putting out,” Parker said. “Seeing everyone come in and talk today has us excited and we hopefully can help people. We want to make it easier for patients to get their cards. Right now they have to go to a certified doctor and then complete a computer application. Some people may not have computer literacy or a computer to do so.”

Patients who come into the dispensary will be able to look at products, brands, strains and effects and uses of products on an iPad. There is also literature in the dispensary to help people make informed decisions about what they are getting.

The Cannabis Company got flower first. Methods of administration listed in a book put together by Mockingjay Cannabis are inhalation, epidermal and consumption.

In response to concerns and questions raised by some people, Penn invites people to come talk about the industry.

“To someone who is either unsure, curious or resistant, just come talk to us, come open your mind up and do some research,” Penn said. “Don’t be a naysayer. Everyone should have their own choice. There is a lot of scientific research. Read it for yourself. I was a little hesitant at first myself.”