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In Face of Shortage, Regulators Allow Boats to Bring Cannabis to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket

In the face of a shortage of marijuana on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts regulators intervened and issued an administrative order permitting the transportation of cannabis to both Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket islands for the first time Thursday, The Associated Press reports. On Martha’s Vineyard, one dispensary temporarily closed in May after it ran out of marijuana and another said it would close by September. The Island Time dispensary also filed a lawsuit against the state Cannabis Control Commission. The other dispensary, Fine Fettle, the sole grower of pot on the island, had said the small grow operation was no longer economically feasible and was closing it down. There are more than 230 registered medical users and thousands more recreational ones on Martha’s Vineyard. The year-round population of 20,000 grows to more than 100,000 in the summer, as many wealthy people move into vacation homes.


Although Massachusetts voters opted to legalize marijuana more than seven years ago, the state commission had not allowed transportation of pot to the islands. Commissioners believed that transporting pot across the ocean, whether by boat or plane, risked running afoul of federal laws. To avoid any federal complications, the commission spells out in its administrative order that the route of transportation must remain within state territorial waters. That means that the marijuana won’t be able to be transported on the ferry but will instead need to be shipped on alternative, approved boats. Adam Fine, a lawyer for Vicente representing the dispensary, said they were ready to drop the lawsuit as soon as Island Time’s delivery boat was inspected on Friday. Three of the five commissioners visited Martha’s Vineyard to hear directly from affected residents who expressed concerns about being forced to buy the drug from the black market. “I’ll only speak for myself. It wasn’t a matter of if, but how do we do it,” she said. “You never want to be putting consumers and patients in a place where they don’t have access to medicine.” She said the commission also didn’t want to see dispensaries shut down, especially with the busy summer season approaching.


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