Five medical marijuana dispensaries given green light to open in Gulfport

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) – More medical marijuana dispensaries will open in South Mississippi as municipalities and counties issue business permits. The City of Gulfport gave the green light to five dispensaries amid criticism about its zoning regulations.

“We’re not taking this on a case-by-case basis,” said Gulfport mayor Billy Hewes. “We set the zoning in place and said, ‘These are the criteria, these are the areas. Go get it.’”

He is optimistic for the future of medical marijuana in his city.

The dispensary zoning regulations were established in November 2022 and are strategically placed on and around the Highway 49 corridor. Critics of the regulations want to open shops outside of the zone.

One group fighting to open its facility outside of the zoned area is lobbying for public support with postcards sent to citizens.

“By our calculations, on the zones, you can have up to 30 [dispensaries] in the city,” Hewes said in response to the criticism. “They’re saying that it’s hard to get a license, it’s hard to do business. We already have five [dispensaries] that are approved here.”

One of the approved dispensaries is Green Wise Cannabis Company.

“For us, the City of Gulfport was easy to deal with,” said the company’s operations manager Michael Gray.

He told WLOX News, the process was not without hiccups, however.

“Our location was within 500 feet of a hotel — and hotels were considered residential and the city of Gulfport was not going to be able to give us a permit,” he said. “So, we just started working with the city. We attended the meetings. We represented our side, and they reviewed that law. And when the city changed the law, we were able to receive our license because the only conflict was that hotel. We’re just excited to be apart of Gulfport. We should be opening in early May.”

Despite the critics, Mayor Hewes is optimistic about the future of medical marijuana in his city.

“We’re going to continue moving forward and continue encouraging folks to do business here. But, let’s try to leave the zoning that is in place and see how that work comes out,” he said.

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