The Cannabis Control Commission recently provided an administrative order that allows cannabis businesses located in Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket to transport marijuana across state waters. This order came on Friday, June 14, 2024. In part, this order addressed an ongoing issue for two dispensaries struggling in Martha’s Vineyard. Each one has nearly shut down due to the inability to bring cannabis products from suppliers on the mainland. While temporary, the new order may allow these businesses to remain open and supplied.

Concerns were brought in front of commissioners from residents of the two islands and additional patients and advocates last week. They expressed concerns about not having access to legal and safe cannabis. For medical marijuana patients, this is a potentially hazardous concern, which led the Cannabis Control Commission to swiftly enact their newest order. 

The vote was unanimous to pass the order “regarding the transport of marijuana and marijuana products over state territorial waters to and from marijuana establishments and medical marijuana treatment centers in the counties of Dukes and Nantucket.”

“This was turned around in a really quick time frame,” said Commissioner Kimberly Roy. “At the end of the day, this was about public health and public safety and patients and consumers alike having access to safely regulated products.”

AD 4nXe65ZUBeNx8gjsfzb OOZUHk0XVgXdP7wkDtQ d2FqwesrOwGLElJ412gvlrYs8r1bwj8q1CcqJ86LsgEudiv9ZZ

The root of the issue is that marijuana is legal on a state level in Massachusetts, but not legal federally. Transporting cannabis products across federal waters could result in prosecution for operators. This has made it impossible for dispensaries on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket to source products from the mainland, instead only buying marijuana from cultivators on the islands. It is an expensive business to maintain, and the only cultivator on Martha’s Vineyard is set to close its operations imminently. 

This cultivator closure, coupled with the inability to source product from the mainland, spelled disaster for Island Time and Fine Fettle, the two dispensaries located on Martha’s Vineyard. Island Time temporarily closed in May, and Fine Fettle said that without the commission’s intervention, they would be forced to close by the end of the summer. 

Island Time is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Cannabis Control Commission arguing that there are water routes to the mainland through state territorial waters, rather than federal waters. Island Time was cited by the commission when owner Geoff Rose transported cannabis products to Martha’s Vineyard through state waters. The commission ruling against him prompted the lawsuit.

“Today is a great day in providing equity for operators on the islands,” Rose said in a phone interview with Marijuana Moment regarding the passing of the administrative order. “I truly appreciate the efforts of the cannabis commission to address this very important issue which has been long overdue for attention. I look forward to continuing to serve patients and consumers with safe and high-quality products.”

Adam Fine, an attorney representing Island Time, confirmed that the lawsuit would be dropped following the commission’s decision. Fine Fettle’s general manager Chloe Loftfield added, “It really is a positive change and we’re really hopeful that this means a bright future for cannabis on Martha’s Vineyard.”