Vineyard marijuana dispensary to close

Fine Fettle in West Tisbury - MV Times

Fine Fettle, a medical and recreational dispensary in West Tisbury — as well as the Island’s only licensed growing facility — announced that it will be closing in September.

Benjamin Zachs, chief operating officer of the Connecticut-based company, has said that because of the difficulties of hosting a dispensary on an island, and with cheaper options off-Island, they couldn’t make the operation financially viable.

“It sucks,” Zachs told The Times. “We haven’t been able to crack the nut to not lose money.”

The COO said he is willing to work with a potential buyer to take over the operation.

The possible closure of the growing operation in the shoulder season raises questions about how recreational marijuana could be sold on the Vineyard, with federal laws restricting the flow of cannabis over water and by plane. 

The U.S. Coast Guard, which patrols federal waters, has said that they would treat the possession and use of cannabis under federal law. While the Biden administration has announced it would loosen regulations, the federal government currently treats marijuana as the same class of drug as heroin.

But the state’s marijuana regulators, the Cannabis Control Commission, are scheduled to review rules surrounding the transport of product to the Islands in a hearing scheduled for today.

Fine Fettle first opened as a medical dispensary in 2021 after inking a landmark deal with Geoff Rose, owner of dispensary Island Time, earlier that year. Island Time in Vineyard Haven is the only other dispensary on the Vineyard. 

Zachs said they plan to close the growing facility, although he added that there has been interest in purchasing the operation. What the asking price is for the operation, he wouldn’t say, but noted that he is willing to work with an interested buyer.

Zachs said he believes the reasons for not getting the revenue they expected are twofold. 

For one, the recreational marijuana market has been somewhat flooded with stores since voters supported the recreational sale of marijuana in 2016. A number of new locations off-Island have opened that are on the way to the ferry, including locations in Wareham and Mashpee. Zachs said that it’s easier to purchase the product on the way to the Island than trying to drive to West Tisbury at the height of the summer from down-Island. 

And the off-Island product is cheaper, because of the nuances and challenges that come with operating a dispensary on an island. Fine Fettle has to provide its own product testing, which comes with its own costs; some materials have to be sent off-Island, leading to further costs. And like other Island businesses, renting a space is not cheap. And there are additional challenges to growing a product on a yearly basis with a seasonal clientele.  

While off-Island dispensaries have kept their costs down with more stores opening, Fine Fettle’s costs have not stayed competitive.

“We just haven’t seen the consistency of demand that we would have hoped,” Zachs said.

Fine Fettle is a Connecticut-based business that also operates medical and recreational dispensaries off-Island, including in Stamford and Norwalk, and plans are in the works to open several dispensaries in Georgia, including in Athens.

Zachs said that the off-Island locations are still going strong, and are not struggling the way the Vineyard location has. He said that if an operation were to work on the Island, he suggested one company own locations in downtown areas like Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven, with a third and grow operation up-Island that could supplement year-round Islanders.

Rose, the owner of Island Time, brought a proposal to town meeting in Oak Bluffs last month to allow for the creation of a marijuana dispensary in the town, but voters — questioning the need for a dispensary — rejected the petition with overwhelming opposition.

Rose, reached on Friday, would not comment when asked if he would be interested in purchasing the Fine Fettle operation.


  1. Question: I’ve been told that it’s in fact illegal to bring marijuana on the ferries because they navigate federal waters. Is that the case?

    • Within 3 miles from shore is state water. The WH – MV ferry operates within this distance from land. The Steamship Authority may have their own rules, however.

      • So the “federal” laws don’t actually come in to play? Because most of us have been told the same that its illigal to transport this product (card
        Or otherwise) on the ferry due to the federal laws, it has bothing to do with the steamship itself(no one follows their rules at all).

        • I’m not a lawyer, but the WH – VH, OB ferries operate within state waters, not federal.

  2. Sorry to hear this. I went there two years ago and everyone was nice and professional and took the time to answer my questions. Get location on State Road. Sad to see them go.

  3. It is so reassuring to see that the hippie island has turned it’s back on this drug that some people see as being so dangerous.
    Maybe like five percent…

  4. Here is a case where I think overregulation is a problem.
    From the start, they have had to jump through ridiculous
    hoops. But I think the real problem is that everybody is
    legally or illegally growing this stuff, and you literally can’t
    give it away.

    • Hi Don- that is an interesting economic Pandora’s Box, where the same process that allows legal sales creates the condition for those same stores to be undercut by a product that literally grows like a weed. In an age where most people’s memory doesn’t extend past their last iPhone update, people forget that the laws in this country that made cannabis illegal were riddled with inconsistencies and economic/political agendas and the plant itself has been used by humans for thousands of years, well before the 20th century’s hysteria came and went.

  5. Neither MV paper has addressed the question of how Island Time Dispensary has been allowed to reopen without access to island-grown cannabis. Island Time is no longer selling Fine Fettle island grown products. Is the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission allowing Island Time to bring product in from the mainland (across federal waters) to sell in their Vineyard Haven dispensary? There’s a story there!

    • John– Please note the map of the coastal zone boundaries
      in this link.
      As Scott pointed out in a previous comment, the water between
      Woods and The Vineyard are in state control, as is the water
      between Falmouth and the Vineyard.
      My understanding is that the ferry is subject to stringent
      coast guard regulations, due to its commercial passenger charter
      so it can’t allow weed on their ships.
      I’m not sure that restriction applies to private vessels that may
      be coming out of Falmouth with no paying customers.
      I don’t really know all the rules.
      I would be interested to hear what you might be able to find
      out about this issue.

    • It is a very short story!!!
      The Woods Hole and Hyannis runs do not cross Federal waters.

  6. Pity that biz plan didn’t work after jumping thru the many hurdles required. Also the tax cash cow windfall WT expected will not happen

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