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#MUNICIPAL #GUIDANCE: Martha’s Vineyard

In West Tisbury, businessman Geoff Rose will present a warrant article by petition that seeks to allow the sale and cultivation of recreational marijuana in the airport business park by special permit from the town Zoning Board of Appeal.

“The intention is to identify a cultivation area and expand retail sales area,” Mr. Rose told the Gazette. He met with the West Tisbury planning board on Feb. 11 to discuss the article and possible amendments.

Mr. Rose, owner of Patient Centric of Martha’s Vineyard, has already received a provisional license from the state and cleared most local hurdles to operate a medical cannabis dispensary in West Tisbury. A cultivation facility for that purpose is nearly complete on Dr. Fisher Road in West Tisbury, and renovations are beginning on a rented retail space at 510 State Road. Mr. Rose is so far the only Islander to receive a provisional license since medical marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts in 2013.

Last year, Mr. Rose sought and received a priority certification from the state to apply for a license to sell recreational marijuana, but he said he has not formally begun that application.

“You can’t pursue the application process until you identify properties [for the business],” he said.

In Edgartown, the planning board is putting forth a warrant article that would allow marijuana to be sold in the business district on Upper Main street and to be cultivated and sold in the airport business park, both by special permit.

The changes would do away with temporary moratoriums on the sale of marijuana in Edgartown. In 2013, the town temporarily banned the sale of medical marijuana shortly after it was legalized in the Commonwealth. In 2017, after recreational marijuana was legalized, the town joined many others in Massachusetts in enacting another temporary moratorium on marijuana establishments.

“A moratorium was allowable by the state to allow towns and cities to come up with regulations,” said Edgartown planning board clerk Doug Finn. “The town wisely put that moratorium in place while it worked on zoning regulations for retail sales.”

Mr. Finn said there are no specific proposals in Edgartown to open marijuana businesses yet, and the changes mostly provide a roadmap for town oversight. Among other regulations, the proposed bylaw prohibits marijuana establishments within 500 feet of a school or another marijuana establishment. New businesses in the airport business park would also be subject to review by the airport commission and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

Airport manager Ann Richart said she had corresponded with representatives from both towns and asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) whether allowing a marijuana establishment would be permitted. The FAA compliance and land use specialist told her allowing such a business would not put the airport out of compliance with federal regulations.