Seasonal resident Noah Eisendrath splits his time between Martha’s Vineyard and the Boston area, but he’d like that to change soon.
“I’ve been looking for an excuse to be down here more,” Eisendrath said in an interview with The Times. “I’ve always wanted to open a business on the Vineyard — something that demanded my attention and forced me to be here.” He’s hoping Main Street Medicinals could be just that.
Main Street Medicinals is a proposed medical and recreational marijuana establishment eyeing 65 Mechanic’s St. in Vineyard Haven. The site would include retail sales, cultivation, a testing lab, and edible operations. Eisendrath is the principal owner and sole financier, for now, and is working alongside cannabis consultant Silver Therapeutics — a retail dispensary with licenses in Williamstown and Orange. Main Street Medicinals represents Silver Therapeutics’ third and final license. State law prohibits a marijuana establishment from owning more than three licenses/retail outlets.
“They’re helping others get into the game,” Eisendrath said of Silver Therapeutics. “One [of the owners] is an old friend — a partner of mine in Wonder Bar in Allston.”
Eisendrath owns two Boston-based bars: Wonder Bar in Allston, and Coolidge Corner Clubhouse in Brookline. Alcohol, like marijuana, is a regulated industry, and Eisendrath believes his experience gives him a leg up on other entrepreneurs trying to break into the canna-business.
“I’m already dealing with city and state officials, security, keeping people safe,” Eisendrath said. “I’ve been doing it with alcohol for a long time. Cannabis seems to be in the same type of regulatory framework. It’s a lateral move.”
And while Wonder Bar has been issued with multiple license suspensions for serving underage college students, Eisendrath affirms that won’t be an issue with Main Street Medicinals.
“It’s very different,” Eisendrath said. “The security is much more robust [with marijuana]. There are checkpoints. You get your ID scanned before you enter the building, there’s a holding area vestibule, and then you’re reidentified before you enter the facility.”
Eisendrath added that he remedied the issue at Wonder Bar by investing in a high-end scanner system that’s TSA-approved. “It’s cleared everything up,” he said.
So why marijuana? Eisendrath said he’s always been interested in the emerging industry. “Some of the medical applications are very promising,” he said. “It’s a natural product. The idea has always appealed to me.”
And why Martha’s Vineyard? Eisendrath grew up spending summers on the Island. His parents bought a home in West Tisbury in the mid-1960s — a preserved horse barn on a five-acre property. Eisendrath drove cabs and worked at Nancy’s as a teen, and continues to visit the Island with his wife and 2-year-old son. About eight years ago, Eisendrath built a winterized home on the property. “We didn’t build a winter home here for nothing,” he laughed. Eisendrath sees marijuana as an opportunity to realize his dream of building a business on the Island and spending more time here with his family. He’s also focused on keeping things as local as possible.
“Locally funded, locally sourced, locally grown,” Eisendrath said. “Those recent articles you read about Canadian companies being ‘the Walmart of weed’ — we’re the opposite of that.”
And while he’s still negotiating a host-community agreement with the town of Tisbury, Main Street Medicinals held its community outreach meeting in early October, and received little pushback. “The community sounded supportive,” Eisendrath said. “People asked some really good questions.” After Eisendrath finalizes the host-community agreement, Main Street Medicinals can apply for a license from the state. The business can also set up an investment fund after the host-community agreement is finalized. “I won’t be looking to sell equity to a big conglomerate,” Eisendrath reiterated.
In addition to consultation from Silver Therapeutics, Eisendrath has been in touch with Green Lady Dispensary on Nantucket, a recreational dispensary that opened in August.
“We’re coordinating with them because they’re also in a unique position,” Eisendrath said, touching on the federal law that prohibits marijuana passage over federal waters and federal air.
“We have to develop our own testing lab on the Island,” Eisendrath said. All marijuana products have to be tested in a laboratory before retail sales, according to state law. “It’s not cheap, it takes up space, and we’ll need equipment. So we’re talking to [Green Lady Dispensary] to see what worked for them.”
Another niche for Eisendrath is his dedication to preserving historic buildings and neighborhoods. Both Wonder Bar and Coolidge Street Corner are old-fashioned bars with a casual feel: “There aren’t many of those around those neighborhoods anymore,” Eisendrath said. “It’s about keeping some nostalgia from what I love about those communities.” And he’s committed to carrying those same goals over to the Island with his proposed business.
Eisendrath said he’d ideally like to open retail shops in Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, as well as Vineyard Haven, keeping all three Main Street Medicinal licenses here on the Island. “But we’re focused on Vineyard Haven right now,” he said.
Eisendrath said he is aware that Patient Centric, the Island’s only licensed marijuana establishment, is also eyeing Mechanic’s Street for recreational retail operations. He believes there’s room for two marijuana businesses on the Island.
“I hope people recognize that I have a unique skill set that hopefully lends itself to the industry,” Eisendrath said. “It’s exciting. It’s all brand-new and still being figured out. I like the idea of being part of that.”