Compromise marijuana bill allows Island-specific regulations


Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed the compromise version of the 2016 marijuana bill into law on Friday, allowing for a tax hike from 12 percent to 20 percent on retail marijuana since the ballot law passed in November. The compromise bill also places new restrictions on marketing, packaging, and transporting pot products, according to the State House News Service (SHNS).

Since Martha’s Vineyard is surrounded by federal waters and airspace, and is made up of unique towns and districts, an Island-specific version of the law is needed before we will experience any major changes here.

In an email interview with The Times, Rep. Dylan Fernandes wrote that an amendment to protect the Vineyard was added to the final bill: “The marijuana bill contains special language that I got through the House, and Senator [Julian] Cyr got through the Senate, to ensure that the state takes into consideration the Vineyard’s unique geography when developing regulations,” he wrote. “Over 125 amendments were filed to the bill, and this was one of a few that made it into the final version. The Island-specific regulations will be developed by next spring.”

How the Island implements those regulations remains to be seen.

“Ultimately, it is up to Vineyard towns to decide whether or not they want marijuana shops, but I wanted to make sure that the state recognizes and accommodates the unique situation the Vineyard is in,” Rep. Fernandes wrote.