On the cusp of final approval from the commonwealth for his medical marijuana business, Patient Centric of Martha’s Vineyard, CEO Geoff Rose is now looking to recreational marijuana cultivation and sales.
His current sites on Dr. Fisher Road in West Tisbury and the Airport Business Park are locations where Rose sees potential for situating a cultivation facility for recreational weed. To that end he has put forth an article on the West Tisbury annual town warrant which would allow both sales and cultivation in Light Industrial Districts 1 and 2, the vicinity of Dr. Fisher Road and the Airport Business Park respectively, by special permit. Rose said he took steps to ensure the article contained the need for a special permit because he believes “it’s important that the town has oversight and input.”
The central location of the airport makes it appealing, he said. The Airport Business Park is partly regulated by the FAA, which introduces a federal element into the mix, but Geoff Freeman, assistant airport manager, said “other airports, only a few in the country, have allowed such business enterprises.” Freeman said the FAA notwithstanding, the airport commission and possibly the Martha’s Vineyard Commission would also have to approve such a facility in the business park. Undoubtedly, given the burdened, unmodernized state of the airport’s wastewater facility, the stresses a cultivation facility would put on the plant would need to be analyzed, he said. The airport has been “looking for funding mechanisms to do phased upgrades at the plant,” he said.
“The airport commission is in charge of managing business park, and therefore it would be up to them if and under what condition such a facility would operate there,” said Martina Thornton, Dukes County manager.
Airport commission chairman Bob Rosebaum said a dispensary at the business park seems unproblematic, especially because he is sure the FAA turns a blind eye to marijuana outside the TSA-secured areas of an airport. But growing marijuana would involve appreciable use of power and water that would require careful consideration, he said.
As it stands, any recreational marijuana in West Tisbury would be taxed at 20 percent, with 17 percent of the tax going to the state and 3 percent going to West Tisbury town coffers. For his current medical marijuana dispensary, as with all medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts, there is no tax. However, Rose has worked out a host agreement with West Tisbury. As The Times reported in October, that agreement includes an annual $5,000 community impact fee. Rose said he isn’t fearful the FAA or another federal agency would put the kibosh on a future pot operation at the airport, nor is he fearful the feds will crack down on what he already has underway on Dr. Fisher Road or on State Road, where the dispensary portion of Patient Centric will be located. “If I were fearful about that,” he said. “I probably wouldn’t be doing this.”
That State Road location in no way resembles a traditional head shop with its shelves of bongs and cases of glass pipes, he emphasized. “It looks like a doctor’s office,” he said. “Should be open in late July, if all goes well.”
All in all nine, people will be working for Rose, three in the dispensary and six at the cultivation facility. He expects a similar number would work in any future recreation operation he launches.
Be it medical marijuana or yet to be realized recreational marijuana, Rose said the federal government does control one very impactful aspect of legal pot on Martha’s Vineyard — transportation. The FAA prohibits Rose from distributing any of his product via aircraft, and the Coast Guard prohibits him from distributing any of his product aboard watercraft, therefore Rose’s products must not only be made on the Vineyard but, owing to geography, only sold on the Vineyard, too.
Should his warrant article pass, Rose admits there’s still quite a way to go before something could be realized at the airport. And he hasn’t ruled out combining propagation of both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana on Dr. Fisher Road. His article has the unanimous support of the West Tisbury Planning Board, albeit with some clerical changes, according to planning board administrator Jane Rossi. Per the article, it’s supported by the finance committee 4-0-1.