Medical marijuana grow facility wins MVC approval in MA

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The Martha’s Vineyard Commission has approved what may become the Island’s first facility for growing, testing and packaging medical marijuana.

Geoff Rose, owner of Patient Centric of Martha’s Vineyard, plans to share space in a 7,200-square-foot building on Dr. Fisher Road in West Tisbury. The building itself, planned by Big Sky Tents owner Jim Eddy, was approved by the commission in 2010 but has yet to be built.

During a public review this spring, residents raised concerns about increased traffic on Dr. Fisher Road, and the site’s proximity to the West Tisbury School 2,400 feet to the south. But the final plans on Thursday passed with little debate.

“It seems to me on balance that the project is a benefit,” commissioner Joan Malkin said during a discussion of pros and cons on the project on Thursday night.

As part of its approval, the commission also approved the associated modifications to the Big Sky Tents proposal, which previously involved a 9,600 square foot building at the site. The commission agreed that a reduced footprint and other modifications would also be a benefit.

“This proposal will provide a service to the Island that it currently doesn’t have, and in that regard this location is a good place for it,” commissioner Fred Hancock said.

Mr. Rose had originally proposed both a cultivation center and dispensary in an existing 2,000-square-foot building on State Road in West Tisbury, but the plans changed when he learned the state would require an on site testing lab. Plans for a grow facility and dispensary were later revised to become solely a grow facility, with the dispensary located elsewhere.

Mr. Rose has not yet proposed a new location for the dispensary.

The commission vote was 12-1 in favor of the project.

A motion by Linda Sibley to approve the project was later amended by Christina Brown to include a statement saying the project would benefit the Island by providing a new service.

The roll call vote was as follows: Voting to approve were Clarence A. (Trip) Barnes 3rd, Christina Brown, Rob Doyle, Josh Goldstein, Fred Hancock, Joan Malkin, Kathy Newman, Ben Robinson, Doug Sederholm, Linda Sibley, Ernie Thomas and Jim Vercruysse. Leonard Jason Jr., who cast the lone dissenting vote, suggested that the project was unnecessary.

“You’re going to tell me there is no grass on this Island? Give me a break,” he said.

The proposal now returns to the West Tisbury zoning board of appeals for review. A meeting has tentatively been set for July 13.

Reached by phone after the commission vote late last week, Mr. Rose said he had already applied to the state to have the cultivation center and dispensary at separate locations. He expected that process to take a few weeks.

All told, he said he expects to be open for business in about a year.

The process has been full of twists and turns, as town and state governments work to regulate medical and recreational marijuana.

Nine years ago, marijuana was illegal in Massachusetts. In 2008 voters decided to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, and in 2012 medical marijuana use became legal. Recreational use was approved in a voter referendum last year.

But state lawmakers have been tinkering with the recreational law. Just last week the state senate passed a modified version of a bill approved by the house. A compromise bill is expected before the state legislature adjourns for summer recess. How much sales tax to charge and a provision that would allow towns to ban marijuana shops are among the unsettled issues.

The senate bill also takes into account the problem of transporting marijuana over federal waters by instructing state Cannabis Control Commission to find ways to ensure the Vineyard and Nantucket have convenient access to the product, according to a senate press release on Friday.

Mr. Rose said he couldn’t predict how the bill might affect his own business plans. But by now he said he is well accustomed to the complicated work associated with opening a medical marijuana facility.

“The process has been more, I would say, comprehensive than I perhaps had anticipated,” he said. “But we are continuing to move forward.”

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Source: 420 Intel – United States

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