Gina Pepe and John Arnold, owners of the new Coast Cannabis Medical Dispensary, the first-such enterprise to open in Hancock County.

The first legal medical cannabis dispensary opened in Hancock County on Saturday, and the store’s owners say they aim to use their products to help end the opioid crisis that has gripped America.

“I’m a prescribed patient of the product, and it took me off the opiates,” Coast Cannabis Medical Dispensary co-owner John Arnold said Monday. “I’d like to use something that’s natural and made by our Lord rather than by a big pharmaceutical company.”

Coast Cannabis is not only the first legal dispensary to open in Hancock County, Arnold’s partner Gina Pepe said, “it’s the first one to get licensed in the state.”

Pepe said she became interested in legal medical cannabis after a death in the family.

“I’m not a marijuana user, but I had a nephew who died from opioid use five years ago,” she said. “I thought I’d like to be a part of the solution to the opioid epidemic.”

The state legislature passed the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act early last year, but it contained dozens of provisions and rules prospective licensees needed to fulfill in order to get approval. As a result, the legal dispensaries are just now opening state-wide.

“It’s been an up-and-down battle getting everything done,” Arnold said, “but it’s here now and we’re open.”

Legalization, Arnold said, “is long overdue. … We’re hoping this is going to be a big benefit to the community and keep people from getting hooked on the opioids and contributing to the big problem in America.”

Arnold said all of Coast Cannabis’s products are tested by the state, and safe to use. They all come from Mockingbird, a Mississippi-based supplier that is licensed and regulated.

Cannabis “helps with chronic pain, sleep disorders, eating disorders, it’s good for cancer patients, it works for so many things - it should have been legal a long time ago,” Arnold said.

One of Coast Cannabis’s new customers is a U.S. military veteran suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, “and our product is doing wonders for him,” Arnold said. “I feel like we’re doing the right thing in the right place.”

Now that the Bay St. Louis location is up and running, Pepe said, “We have another one opening up in Diamondhead at 445 Yacht Club Drive.”

Coast Cannabis Medical Dispensary is located at 835 Hwy. 90, Suite 6, in Bay St. Louis. For more, call 985-316-6708 or go to, or email

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