Brier Brummett watched her father wither away with Alzheimer's. Doctors would prescribe traditional medicine to treat him, but nothing seemed to help with the symptoms.
One day someone gave him a brownie infused with cannabis, she noticed a difference in her father within a few minutes.
“He was better and knew who people were and where he was,” Brummett said.
Ever since then, Brummett has been a strong supporter of medical marijuana. When Mississippi voters passed a measure allowing medical marijuana, Brummett became interested in opening a dispensary.
“I do not want anyone to go through what I did watching my dad wither away,” Brummett said. “It is hard for the person and the family. People need to know that. It should be an option and not frowned upon.”
When Brummett found out that Elizabeth Barnett was making plans to open Hernando's first medical dispensary, a beautiful partnership was formed. When word got out about what they were planning to do, the feedback they received on Facebook was overwhelmingly positive.
Hernando was one of the first cities in DeSoto County to opt-in to the state’s medical marijuana law. Olive Branch also opted in to the law. Southaven, has yet to officially opt-in, but recently adopted new zoning guidelines that would allow dispensaries to operate in a specially designated medical zone. Horn Lake is the only community in DeSoto County to opt-out of the medical marijuana law.
“Everyone has been very receptive,” Barnett said. “We have other surrounding areas that do not have the market or the shops. We hope to be the first one open.”
Barnett and Brummett, along with a third partner, Sarah Kalkstein, will hold a ribbon cutting in Hernando on Dec. 29 for their new venture called Herbal Alchemy LLC at 3016 Highway 51 S, right in the heart of DeSoto County.
They elected to have the ribbon cutting prior to stocking the store with medicine so that the community will have the opportunity to see the inside of the store and the work that has been done. The store will eventually offer gummies, flowers, tincture drops, pens, edibles and any other quality medical cannabis related products produced in Mississippi.
Barnett said all three of them have been through the required training and obtained the necessary license and permits to operate.
“The state requires you to take an 8-hour course,” Brummett said. “They train you on all of the products and what helps with certain medical issues.”
Kalkstein, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, said she absolutely believes in the medicinal benefits of medical marijuana. She has encountered many fellow veterans who have struggled with substance and alcohol abuse and found relief using medical marijuana to treat their condition.
“I believe in this medicine so much and am passionate enough to give my time to it,” Kalkstein said. “I’ve seen people of all ages and demographics realize that there is an alternative to any medical issue rather than taking pills.”
Barnett, who has worked in pain management and a cancer clinic, said medical marijuana can be an option for some patients rather than highly addictive opioids.
“They have been told that opioids are the only way to manage their symptoms. Cannabis has never been an option until now,” Barnett said. “I could see that they were desperate for another option.”
The three women said they plan to educate the public about the benefits of medical marijuana and hope that the stigma of using this medicine will one day go away once people realize that it can help cope with variety of medical conditions.
“I think this whole movement is amazing and that people are studying this industry now,” Brummett said. “Everyone in this industry is trying to help people, not for the money, but help make this all-natural medication more available.”