Medical couple hopes to break taboo surrounding medical marijuana

Published 3:43 pm Thursday, February 9, 2023

The medical marijuana dispensary at 101 Whitebrook Drive off Hwy. 51, just south of Halbert Heights Road, is the second dispensary to open in the city of Brookhaven, but the first to do so in a purposefully subdued manner. Magnolia Greens Dispensary opened for business Jan. 30, 2023.

“We chose our name for people who did not feel so ‘free’ as to go into a place that was obviously labeled as for cannabis or marijuana,” said Dr. Dennis Sanders Jr., who along with his registered nurse wife Isluv, owns and operates the facility. “We’re a little more low-key. We have spent a lot of time and energy to make sure we can cater to the whole community. We want to help the grandma who doesn’t want anyone to know she uses cannabis, or the high-profile community leader who may not be comfortable with people seeing them at a cannabis facility. We have some ambiguity.”

“We have one of the biggest spaces in the surrounding area, and one of the safest locations, found directly next to the police department,” Sanders said. “We’re trying to break the taboo here in the buckle of the Bible Belt. Our location and name were chosen because we are purposeful in being discreet.”

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The couple lives in Jackson and also owns a coffeehouse in Isluv’s hometown of Hazlehurst, Luv’s Coffee Bistro. They buy their beans from a single, small supplier, where the way beans are sourced and roasted is just as important as the end product.

Their approach to the medical cannabis business is similar — purchase from small, boutique suppliers that care about the product as much as they do.

“We met with growers to align our goals and interest on plants and patients, and growing practices, because cutting corners anywhere affects quality,” Sanders said. “I got into this to help people, not to make a quick buck. We’ve invested ourselves in this for years. We grew hemp for a while. We know intimately from seed to flower about this plant, and how each part, variety and strand helps patients.”

The doctor said they started the Brookhaven project “on a hope and a prayer,” even entering into a rental agreement on the location before the city had approved local facilities.

“We wanted to give people who were not in the Capitol City access to this alternative medicine,” he said. “We bring medical knowledge and genuine help to people.”

Dr. Sanders earned his MD degree from the University of Mississippi. Isluv earned her nursing degree from Alcorn State University.

For the past three years, they have owned a private duty nursing agency, sending nurses to homes with children of any age who need help with anti-epileptic relief and other such treatments.

Both medical professionals say they have seen first-hand the effects of cannabis oil and other medical marijuana products on people suffering from similar ailments.

“On our Facebook page, you can see a video of a child taking cannabis oil while having an active seizure,” Dr. Sanders said. “Within 15 seconds it’s gone. There are no side effects, no ‘hangover’ and no way to overdose on it. Things like (opioids) have side effects. That’s not the case with cannabis. Many pharmaceuticals can be addictive. Cannabis can be habit forming, but it is not addictive. There are no withdrawals if you stop taking the drug.”

These qualities make the use of cannabis important to Dr. Sanders. Regardless of the stigma cannabis use may have, the benefits far outweigh the negatives, he said.

“Alcohol, tobacco, and opioids are health menaces, but the one that has medical benefits is the one that has been demonized,” he lamented.

Due to the laws and regulations on medical cannabis in Mississippi, Dr. Sanders cannot prescribe medical marijuana or recommend specific doctors, because he owns a dispensary. The Magnolia Greens employees can, however, assist potential patients in answering questions and applying online for cards through the Mississippi State Department of Health.

“We have about 2,000 square feet of lobby space. People can come in and talk with me or another employee at any time,” Sanders said. “The retail space is set apart from the lobby, and no one can see into it from there.”

Magnolia Greens is open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. seven days a week, and can be reached at 662-897-4550.

“We want patients to be comfortable,” Sanders said, “and to get the help they’ve waited on so long.”