No medical marijuana dispensary for Martha’s Vineyard

No medical marijuana dispensary for Martha’s Vineyard

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Various strains of medical marijuana are grown on site at Greenleaf Compassionate Care in Rhode Island, which had hoped to partner with Susan Sanford of Greenleaf MV Compassionate Care Inc. in West Tisbury.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) Friday announced the statewide recipients of a limited number of registered marijuana dispensary (RMD) licenses. None of the four Martha’s Vineyard applicants for a license in Dukes County made the list.

The DPH list of approved dispensaries listed Berkshire, Franklin, Nantucket, and Dukes counties as those counties not chosen for a dispensary license.

Four Vineyard applicants were in the running for the Dukes County license to own and operate an RMD. They included Complementary Medicine practitioner Susan Sanford of Greenleaf MV Compassionate Care Inc., Oak Bluffs businessman Mark Wallace of Kingsbury Group Inc., Our Island Club co-founder Geoffrey Rose and Jonathan Bernstein of Patient Centric of Martha’s Vineyard Ltd., and Michael Peters, doing business under the name MV Greencross.

DPH said the selection committee made their selections using objective scoring guided by state procurement principles. “The process included extensive background checks and was based on factors such as overall quality of the application, appropriateness of the site, local support, and the applicant’s ability to meet the overall health needs of registered patients while ensuring public safety,” DPH said.

Greenleaf MV Compassion Care received a score of 118. Patient Centric of Martha’s Vineyard came in at 125. MV Greencross scored 91. Kingsbury Group scored a 65 on their Duke’s County application. Kingsbury also applied for licenses in Plymouth County and Barnstable County. Kingsbury Group was among the lowest scoring applicants.

Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts, the highest scoring applicant with a total of 160 points, won licenses for Barnstable, Bristol, and Plymouth counties.

“We are pleased to announce that qualified patients will soon have full access to marijuana for medical use in Massachusetts,” said MMJ Program Executive Director Karen van Unen. “Only dispensaries with the highest quality applications were selected to be a part of this new industry, which will create hundreds of jobs while maintaining community safety.”

“Eight highly qualified applicants who were not granted their proposed location will be invited to seek a change of location to a county without provisional approval for a Registered Marijuana Dispensary,” DPH said. This phase will allow the selection committee to review high-scoring applicants who wish to seek a change of location to an underserved county to maximize patient access.”

The eight standby applicants scored between 137 and 149 points. No Island applicant is on that list.

Applicants comment

Reacting to Friday’s news, Geoffrey Rose of Patient Centric said that he remained optimistic that his company would be considered if the Dukes County slot goes unfilled. “I’m hopeful based on the fact that we received the highest score in our county,” Mr. Rose told The Times Friday immediately following the DPH announcement.

“I’m speculating that those entities that have been invited to apply for a license in another location, should they choose not to seek a license, will open a window of opportunity and it is likely that they (DPH) will choose the highest scoring applicant.”

Founders of Our Island Club — a community-based service that offers savings to year-round Island residents for products and services, such as groceries, home heating fuel, and gasoline — Mr. Rose and Mr. Bernstein said in August they were confident that their community-based effort would lend itself to opening a dispensary in Duke’s County. The pair had eyed a West Tisbury location.

Licensed physical therapist and acupuncturist Susan Sanford filed for a medical marijuana license under the name Susan Sanford of Greenleaf MV Compassion Care. President and chief executive of Vineyard Complementary Medicine on State Road in West Tisbury, Ms. Sanford was planning to open in the same location. Ms. Sanford had partnered with Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center (GCCC) on Aquidneck Island just outside Portsmouth, Rhode Island, which she  described as a model for the type of facility she would like to operate.

“As part of a collaborative team effort in the application process, I feel I gave my best effort and earned the trust and respect of the Island community,” Ms. Sanford wrote in an email to The Times on Friday. “The entire process has been enlightening and I look forward to continued involvement in facilitating a medical marijuana program on Martha’s Vineyard that provides our community and patients with the best care possible.”

Jordan Wallace formed the nonprofit Kingsbury Group Corporation. The group was legally organized prior to filing their application with the DPH for a state license under the name Mark Wallace, Jordan Wallace’s father, in both Dukes and Barnstable counties. Mr. Wallace could not be reached for comment.

In comments last August, Mr. Wallace told The Times, “I became interested when I saw the support of the law by the people of Massachusetts, and specifically by my fellow Islanders. I recognized, along with the people of Massachusetts and of 19 other states, a need currently unmet.”

Politics charged

Critics of the licensing process, including the Massachusetts Republican Party, questioned the level of transparency, describing it “politicized and secretive” and alleging that state Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett is too closely associated with former Congressman William Delahunt, who is among the license applicants with political ties, the State House News Service reported Friday. Mr. Delahunt’s group — Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts — was awarded provisional licenses for dispensaries in Mashpee, Taunton, and Plymouth.

Middlesex County, the state’s most populous county, received the highest number of dispensary licenses, four, one each in Lowell, Ayer, Newton, and Cambridge.

DPH in January appointed Karen van Unen, the former chief operating officer of a Dorchester public health program, as executive director of its medical marijuana program and empowered her with the final decisions on all licenses. The Massachusetts Medical Society cautioned Friday that marijuana’s effectiveness as medicine has not been scientifically proven, and it said its increased availability presents implications for occupational safety, and “poses health risks of toxins and cognitive impairment.”

Zoning regulations in place

“All successful applicants will be required to demonstrate compliance with municipal rules, regulations, ordinances, and bylaws before opening,” DPH said. “Dispensaries must also pass the MMJ Program’s inspection process prior to receiving full licensure. The inspection includes security, architectural review, growing requirements, and compliance with local zoning and laws.”

According to state law, an RMD may not be sited within 500 feet of a school, daycare center, or any facility in which children commonly congregate. Municipalities may implement local zoning code changes or establish regulations and fees that will affect RMDs.

Only one Island town has established RMD zoning regulations. At a special town meeting in November, Oak Bluffs voters approved a zoning overlay district that would allow a medical marijuana dispensary in three areas of town: a small parcel off Holmes Hole Road that abuts the Tisbury industrial area, several parcels near the Goodale Construction sand pit on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, and the health care district where Martha’s Vineyard Hospital is located.

Massachusetts residents who have a prescription for marijuana will need to register to purchase or grow marijuana.  According to DPH, “Qualified patients would pay a $50 annual registration fee, and patients who qualify for a hardship cultivation license would pay an additional $100 annual fee.” Patients with financial hardships could appeal the fees, but they would only be waived with approval from state officials.

Voters approved the use of marijuana for certain medical conditions that include cancer, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease in November 2012.

DPH enacted regulations and last November, dispensary applicants were required to hand deliver an extensive proposal for their medical marijuana facility, along with a $30,000 non-refundable application fee.


  1. Theres a ballot initiative in 2016 to just legalize it altogether like Colarado and Washington. It will get there just takes time.

  2. So people with debilitating illnesses that could be helped by medicinal cannabis will need to travel off island to get it? Off the island that voted 74% in favor of the law?

    1. They’ll need to grow their own after applying for a ‘hardship cultivation permit’ or have a registered caregiver grow or transport for them.

    2. The debilitating illnesses is a crock and you know it. The licenses were rejected because MV is doped up enough and didn’t need more. Everyone is entitled, everyone is a victim, everyone has a hardship and everyone is gaming every system they can. The country has gone to all manner of dependency. Conservatives join the military and liberals join Facebook. People who can ill afford to live here want no oil, no gas, no supermarkets, no employers and no discipline.

      1. “Conservatives join the military and liberals join Facebook.”


        Just wow.

      2. Doug, Jonathan Larche and I would like to be enlightened about what you think made our comments delete-worthy. Feel free to message us privately, or to email us.

          1. I did not want to provoke further nastiness or to indulge in any pointless, un-neighborly, name calling. Nor will I say anything more.

    3. I don’t know first hand, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that marijuana is probably very readily available on the Island and people who want it are already getting it. The last thing the Island needs is a larger supply. Lack of licensure on the Island is a very good thing in my opinion.

  3. Wow, what a kick in the teeth for the four who ponied up the $30,000, esp. when they only picked 20 of a possible 35 dispensaries.

    The 20 picked had ‘expert score’ ratings from 160-137.

    Patient Centric – 125
    Greenleaf MV – 118
    MV Greencross – 91
    Kingsbury Group – 65

    Guess Duke County just had too small a population to count.
    Guess there will be an influx of “caregiver” applications now for here.

    1. 30k down. ouch. looks like Kingsbury didnt bother to type out there app that came in at a measly 65.

        1. On the flipside, the 160 scores were for the three RMD’s from William Delahunt’s group. Nepotism, alive and well!

          1. I understand that Delahunt’s group had three applications. All three approved. With maximum possible “scores”? Can that pass a smell test? Perhaps it can, but the question should be asked.

          2. For a real eye-opener, see the Cape Cod Times story on the two awarded RMD’s on cape.

            They list their salaries and projected earnings of the Delahunt group. Be sitting when you read it!

          3. “non-profit” is the biggest joke in this country from unicef to pot, theres no non-profit about it

          4. I am shocked, just shocked, that a democrat hack, former congressman got not one, not two, but three permits in a democratically controlled state.

          5. If they got one there’s little reason they wouldn’t get more. Once you have an acceptable application just changing locations isn’t hard.
            Of course, it might be a lot easier to get that acceptable application if you know, in advance, what to put in the application.

          6. you know, on a forum where I have been warned many times about name calling, even though I am very careful to never directly call any one a name, you seem to get away with calling people names … “hack” for instance..
            I think I need some guidance from Mr. Cabral
            before I respond to your comment..
            I know for certain that I can call you a “kool aid drinking socialist” , or a “hack” but can I call you a “kool aid drinking tea partier “? I wonder ? Could the sensor please clarify ?

          7. hack is a perfectly legitimate term for a life time politician of patronage like delahunt. i don’t think he would argue with the term.

          8. calling people names is calling people names ,,
            i think Delahunt would actually argue the term “hack”
            Bush would likely argue the terms “perpetrator of genocide” “war criminal” or “mass murderer”. Some people think those labels are legitimate . But , what I am asking Mr Cabral is what is acceptable here, and whether or not there is a political bias here. Everyone agrees that Hitler and Pol Pot were perpetrators of horrific crimes against humanity and should have faced a judicial court for their crimes (neither did) .
            But, somehow, you excuse the indiscriminate bombing of a major metropolitan area targeting water treatment systems and electrical infrastructure , which resulted in the deaths of thousands of children from bacterial infections.
            Clearly, tactics used in the invasion of Iraq were the first incidences of deliberate biological warfare since the signing of the biological weapons treaty in 1975
            So — Back to the point about censorship…
            Since “hack” is ok (Doug apparently agrees )
            I will assume “nut case” is ok.
            Again, i ask for guidance from Doug..

  4. Seems to me that the non-selection of a dispensary for Dukes County (and four others) would be a violation of the law which requires at least one dispensary (and not more than five) per county. This is a true hardship for the people on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
    I would hope that the state reps for these areas would be working very hard to rectify this issue.

      1. While your in-depth legal analysis is certainly well thought out and intriguing…here’s a direct quote from the law (MGL 369) which became effective 1/1/13….

        In the first year after the effective date, the Department shall issue registrations for up to thirty-five non-profit medical marijuana treatment centers, provided that at least one treatment center shall be located in each county, and not more than five shall be located in any one county. In the event the Department determines in a future year that the number of treatment centers is insufficient to meet patient needs, the Department shall have the power to increase or modify the number of registered treatment centers.

        1. The State qualified 8 other applicants and in a few months they will be offered the vacant county slots.
          If none want to venture here, it’s presumed the slot would go to Patient Centric, as the top scorer from here.

          1. Your presumption regarding what happens if the eight applicants don’t accept has not been supported by the State. They have not complied with a law, unfortunately, like so many other laws of this type there is no penalty or action for their non-compliance. Other than the overall scores have they made public the actual grading criteria? All of the applications and review comments should have been made public (allowing for the redaction of private information). The fee to apply was unreasonable. It should have been based on actual costs and, perhaps, scaled based on the population of the county from which the applicant was applying.

  5. I am so happy that the “need” for a marijuana dispensary on MV has not been proven. Yay!

    1. I’m with you !!! Not everyone is in favor. Our rights shouldn’t go up in smoke. Maybe it helps Medical problems . But I feel that most people are just looking for an excuse to get high . Like other prescriptions, There are a few doctors here that pass them out like candy. There is always misuse and doctors to back it. The users know who to go to.Which causes another problem, The cost to give treatment when abuse takes over. Some Doctors (not all) get paid for the visit and script which then leads to other doctors to get paid to treat them.

      1. I agree with “learnalesson”, 100%. I am also not in favor of the “dispensary”, why can’t the “few”, that need it get a “script”, from their PCP, and let the “pharmacies”, that want to be the distributors, fill it ? What is next, regulate “moraphine”, for pain, by having a “heroin dispensary”, or an “oxycotin dispensary”. What a world, we live in ! I am still looking for a “Poor Martha” bumper sticker ! This would not have ever been ‘entertained”, on the island years ago, never ! A drug, is a drug, is a drug, leads to jails, institutions, and death. What is your choice ? Why don’t we bring back “black beauties”, for all of the overweight people ? Don’t we have enough problems in the world? Let’s focus on maybe “gun control”, so we arn’t losing people to these “senseless school shootings”, now there is REAL PAIN !!

  6. We must now file a class action law suit against the State of Massachusetts on behalf of patients that are being unduly burdened with outrageous transportation costs in order to get the medicine we need. Are there any lawyers willing to volunteer? I am sure we can raise the funds to take care of the legal costs. The future in medicine is here and is plant based. The past is pharmaceutical synthetics that cause more harm than good. I want my medicine at an affordable price.

    1. A law suit because there isn’t a dispensary here to suit your needs. Really !
      I’m sure you can still find your so called medicine of the future right here on the island. Or from a friend that you know that is in the business. Seems this was never a problem before.
      Not all pharmaceutical synthetics cause more harm than good. Marijuana may help some but its not a cure all. It has also caused issues for many.
      I am sure there will be much misuse as there is with the pain medicine now. False prescriptions , fake Ids, stealing and others.
      There are many people that go off the island for treatment and do not complain . If you needed heart surgery or any other life threatening problems would you file law suit. Just because you would have to go off the island ? There have been times that people or family’s have had to relocate. And many other that put up with the fact that they live here on the island and travel for treatment. You also have the option to move off to be closer to your nearest dispensary. Or maybe move back to your hometown as there may be one there.
      As for the outrageous transportation costs in order to get the medicine as you stated . Its all part of living here. I was born and raised here and and do not feel the need to have a dispensary. I happen to be disabled myself and I have to go off the island to see Doctors . And had a surgery that was done off the island. But I never felt that I should file suit against the State of Ma for a better hospital , treatment and doctors . Nobody owes me or do they owe you . Its my choice to live here and I understand the cost of it. Maybe its just hard for you to see through the smoke.
      Did you read the article “Two wishes granted for Tisbury student Gabriel Nascimento” This boy and family are very thankful and never complained about the difficulties they went through and are going through. Once you read it , see if your feelings change about the small issue you have to travel to get your plant based medicine. He could not grow his treatment in his back yard or receive his treatment here . And I am sure they never thought of a law suit. I also wonder if you would feel this strong about your plant based medicine if there was not a high with the use of it.syntsynthetic versions And many thanks to Angel flight , Make-A-Wish Foundation and others that help those in need and appreciate not expect.