Martha's Vineyard Is Running Out of Pot

Which is causing quite a conundrum, and a lawsuit
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 10, 2024 10:43 AM CDT
Martha's Vineyard Is About to Run Out of Pot
The Island Time cannabis dispensary on June 4, 2024, in Vineyard Haven, Mass. Unless something changes, Martha's Vineyard is about to run out of pot, affecting more than 230 registered medical users and thousands more recreational ones.   (AP Photo/Nick Perry)

An 81-year-old woman on Martha's Vineyard drove up to the Island Time dispensary last week seeking her usual order of pot. But owner Geoff Rose had to tell her the cupboard was bare—he'd been forced to temporarily close after selling every last bud and gummy, reports the AP. Unless something changes, the island's only other cannabis dispensary will sell all its remaining supplies by September at the latest, and Martha's Vineyard will run out of pot entirely, affecting more than 230 registered medical users and thousands more recreational ones.

The problem boils down to location. Although Massachusetts voters opted to legalize marijuana more than seven years ago, the state's Cannabis Control Commission has taken the position that transporting pot across the ocean—whether by boat or plane—risks running afoul of federal laws. That's despite a counterargument that there are routes to Martha's Vineyard that remain entirely within state territorial waters. The conundrum led Rose to file a lawsuit last month against the commission, which now says that finding a solution to the island's pot problem has become a top priority.

For several years, sellers on Martha's Vineyard and nearby Nantucket thought they had a solution. They grew and tested their own pot, eliminating the need to import any. But Fine Fettle, the sole commercial grower on Martha's Vineyard which also ran the island's other dispensary, told Rose last year that it planned to stop growing pot on Martha's Vineyard and would close its store when existing supplies ran out. Benjamin Zachs, who runs Fine Fettle's Massachusetts operations, says that when the company opened, "Candidly ... we thought this was a good thing for business. A captured market." But over time, pot became cheaper on the Massachusetts mainland, while the costs of employing testers on the island rose, making it uneconomic to continue, Zachs says. He adds that many people bring their own supplies over on the ferry.

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But for people living on the island, taking the ferry to buy pot can be expensive and time-consuming. That leaves medical users such as Sally Rizzo wondering how they will access marijuana. "The nice thing about getting it at a dispensary is that you can tell them specifically what you're looking for, and know the milligrams, and know the potency, and what's in it," says Rizzo. (More marijuana stories.)

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