Bay St. Louis cannabis dispensary owners use voices to advocate for medical marijuana

The grand opening ceremony will be held later this week.
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 6:58 PM CST
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BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - Bay St. Louis’ Coast Cannabis Medical Dispensary opened its doors on Jan. 28. It’s the first dispensary to open in Hancock County.

Community members are already taking advantage of the new store as business rapidly picks up.

Local Timothy Stinson said having a dispensary in his town is invaluable.

“It’s important in my community because there’s a lot of people like me,” Stinson said. “I’m a combat veteran, and this really helps with my PTSD along with my anxiety and my depression personally, so it’s great.

Owners John Arnold and Gina Pepe said their main mission is to put the community first.

“A lot of the public is starting to feel our presence and starting to make an appearance,” Arnold said. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for everyone.”

“Marijuana, we feel, is a very good alternative to chemical drugs a lot of people take,” Pepe said. “There’s a lot of addiction issues out there. We feel that this is a very good alternative.’

The shop was also the first in the state to get approved for a dispensary license.

The owners said they want to assist law enforcement in the fight against opioids. They also want to highlight the importance of medical marijuana for Mississippi and the region.

“Having lost a nephew over five years ago to the opioid addiction, I find myself now wanting to be an advocate,” Pepe said. “Anything that can help this crisis for people getting off this addiction.”

“The opioid crisis in America has gone through the roof,” Arnold said. “Big farmers making millions off of it. Now we finally got Mississippi on board with this. Now we’re able to put this out to the public where it’s needed.”

Stinson said he hopes his fellow community members take advantage of the new store.

“Personally, I’m benefiting from it and I’m sure the tax money and the revenue created from this business we’re going to take care of a lot of people,” he said.

Mississippi law requires any customer to have a medical marijuana prescription.

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