Martha’s Vineyard Running Out Of Weed, Sparking Lawsuit

The island's famously wealthy residents are upset.
Vineyard Haven, MA - May 17: Island Time, a cannabis dispensary in Vineyard Haven, temporarily closed its doors May 14 due to lack of supply. Marijuana remains federally illegal, so it can't be transported over federal waters to Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Martha’s Vineyard is about to run out of marijuana thanks to a state regulator balking at allowing cannabis to be transported over the ocean, and the situation has led to a lawsuit and a scramble to fix the problem.

One marijuana company, Fine Fettle, previously grew its own product on the island, circumventing the ocean transportation problem. However, the company, which also runs the last open pot dispensary on the island, has said it plans to stop growing marijuana on Martha’s Vineyard and will soon close the store.

Meanwhile, the state’s Cannabis Control Commission is afraid that transporting the drug over ocean waters could break federal law despite Massachusetts voters legalizing marijuana back in 2016.

Critics have argued that there are ways to get to Martha’s Vineyard without leaving state territorial waters, but so far, no marijuana supplier has convinced the commission to allow this.

Benjamin Zachs, who runs Fine Fettle’s Massachusetts operations, told the Associated Press that they initially thought the “captured market” on Martha’s Vineyard would remain profitable. However, many people now bring their personal stashes over on the ferry, and the drug is cheaper in other parts of Massachusetts. The cost of hiring testers on the island is also higher, Zachs said.

Among the island’s famously wealthy residents are more than 230 registered medical marijuana patients and thousands more recreational users. Some medical users are older adults, including an 81-year-old woman who has been unable to get her regular order.

The owner of one of the island’s two marijuana dispensaries, Geoff Rose, sued the state’s Cannabis Control Commission as his Island Time dispensary was running out of product. Rose had to temporarily shutter the store last month due to the regulations, and the island has only one other marijuana dispensary that is reportedly due to run out of product by September.


The state’s Cannabis Control Commission has expressed to Martha’s Vineyard residents that it considers the problem an urgent one.

“Obviously, this is a super priority for us, because we don’t want to see the collapse of an industry on the islands,” Commissioner Kimberly Roy told residents during a visit to the island earlier this month.

“It’s a funny juxtaposition,” Roy said. “The entire industry is federally illegal. But that’s evolving, too. We are just trying to stay responsive and nimble.”

Other areas where pot is legal locally have struggled with illegal dispensaries.

Last year, New York found it was losing millions of dollars in tax revenue from its anemic legal marijuana sales while an illegal market thrived.

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