Regulators OK transporting cannabis to Massachusetts islands by boat

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Facing a lawsuit and pressure to ensure residents have access to medical marijuana, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission on Thursday issued an administrative order to allow deliveries of regulated marijuana to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket by boat.

Cannabis retailers on the two islands, both popular summer tourism destinations south of Cape Cod, filed a lawsuit last month against the CCC.

“What that administrative order does is it permits the transportation of cannabis in territorial waters, so there’s a certain body of water where it will be permitted,” CCC Acting Chair Ava Callender Concepcion said Thursday after the group’s meeting, adding that the order would effectively bring the lawsuit to an end.

Callender Concepcion said CCC had reached out to “a number of different federal agencies” to address the legality of transporting marijuana over water within the state and hadn’t received a direct response.

“So, we operated from the information that we were able to gather and, understanding the limited supply, the needs of consumers and patients on the island.”

Wholesale cannabis required

West Tisbury, Massachusetts-based marijuana cultivator Fine Fettle announced its plans to close this year, leaving medical marijuana and adult-use retailer Island Time, a fellow regulated operator on Martha’s Vineyard, without a way to obtain regulated cannabis to sell prior to Thursday’s announcement.

Island Time filed the lawsuit jointly with Nantucket-based The Green Lady Dispensary, alleging the CCC “placed onerous burdens on island-based licensees and their medical and adult-use customers” by not allowing water deliveries of wholesale marijuana to the islands.

According to the lawsuit, not allowing deliveries via territorial waters was in direct violation of CCC’s own statutes, which state that operators “shall not be penalized, sanctioned or disqualified for … transferring or delivering marijuana or marijuana products to or from a marijuana establishment.”

Nicole Campbell, owner of The Green Lady, called Thursday’s announcement a “historic acknowledgment.”

“As any cannabis business owner knows, gaining the same opportunities and access to services that other industries take for granted is an ongoing struggle,” she told MJBizDaily in an email.

“Today, a small step forward has been achieved, but there is still much work to be done.”