Legal Pot Slow to Come to Cape Cod

Cape Cod

Marijuana may now be legal for recreational use across all of Massachusetts, but that doesn’t mean recreational pot is going to be easily accessible throughout Cape Cod in the near future.

After voters across the Bay State made recreational marijuana legal in 2016, Republican Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and powerful anti-pot lawmakers in the commonwealth’s legislature gave local towns that opposed the ballot initiative the autonomy to opt-out of allowing legal marijuana dispensaries in their communities.

That’s left Cape Cod looking like a mismatched quilt – with some towns proudly bearing bright green recreational or medicinal marijuana leaf patches while their neighboring communities are still marked with bright red prohibitionist STOP signs.

Take Nantucket as an example: The scenic, tourist heavy island seems to be well on its way to getting two medical marijuana dispensaries online after they meet the regulatory standards for selling weed legally in the state.

But take a ferry across the Nantucket sound and, after you pass idyllic Martha’s Vineyard you’re in Falmouth – the second largest town on Cape Cod. Voters in that community rejected legalizing recreational marijuana on the ballot in 2016 and local voters met in November 2017 and reaffirmed the community’s anti-pot position by voting to ban any recreational marijuana businesses in the community.

And even in Nantucket there are barriers for getting its two approved medical dispensaries up and running. That’s because local ordinances forceProposed dispensaries are limited to stand-alone facilities, and not allowed within a building or structure containing other retail, commercial, residential, industrial or other uses, except for a licensed medical marijuana treatment center.”

Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard are also wrestling with another problem: How do they legally get their marijuana tested on the mainland, as the law requires, without breaking federal maritime and aviation prohibitions on transporting weed. They’re working with state officials to find a work around the federal restrictions.

But here’s a quick rundown of the state of marijuana on the Cape:


Provincetown: The town has adopted a 2 percent local sales tax on recreational marijuana, and has added recreational marijuana to its zoning bylaws, though no dispensaries have been approved yet. Three groups are in various stages of opening up medical marijuana dispensaries, with one hoping to open its doors by the middle of 2018.

Truro: While voters here approved recreational weed at the ballot box, no action has been taken on approving or disapproving recreational or medical marijuana dispensaries.

Wellfleet: No action taken.

Eastham: Like, Truro and Wellfleet, voters here said they wanted recreational and medical marijuana. Still the town leaders have yet to take action on the issues.


Orleans: Voters met in 2017 and agreed to ban recreational marijuana until at least June 2018.

Brewster: Even though voters here rejected recreational marijuana on the ballot in 2016, in November 2017 they met and saw dollar signs. At the meeting they rejected a proposal that would have banned recreational marijuana businesses until at least December 2018, though they have yet to approve any recreational or medicinal marijuana shops.

Chatham: The town leaders and voters have yet to take any action on recreational or medical marijuana.

Harwich: At their annual town meeting in May 2017, voters delayed any recreational marijuana shops until June 30, 2018, and they’ve taken no action on medicinal pot.

Dennis: At a town meeting in May 2017 voters reaffirmed their opposition to recreational pot by banning businesses related to the substance. And in October they also changed their zoning laws, which now ban all recreational marijuana businesses. But those don’t impact medical marijuana and the William Noyes Webster Foundation is setting up a medical marijuana dispensary on Great Western Road in South Dennis, but no opening date is set yet.

Yarmouth: While voters and town leaders here have yet to weigh in on medical marijuana dispensaries, they rejected recreational marijuana – once again – and have banned any shops related to the substance until December 31, 2018.

Barnstable: After rejecting recreational marijuana at the ballot voters and leaders here have yet to take any further actions on either banning or approving dispensaries.

Sandwich: The town overwhelmingly voted to ban recreational marijuana businesses, and by a 3-2 vote the towns selectmen rejected a proposal for a medical marijuana dispensary.

Mashpee: Voters here also overwhelmingly banned recreational dispensaries until at least December 31, 2018. But Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts is planning to open a medicinal marijuana dispensary by the end of 2017, which would make it the first medicinal nonprofit on the Cape.

Falmouth: Voter here met in November 2017 and banned everything related to medical marijuana, which ranges from growing pot to selling it. They’ve taken no action on medical marijuana.

Bourne: Voters here met in May and put a moratorium on recreational marijuana until November 30, 2018. The Haven Center is in the planning stages of setting up a cultivation center that will produce medical marijuana for the towns of Bourne, Brewster and Fall River.

(Source: The Cape Cod Times)

But don’t let the lack of a recreational or medical marijuana dispensary on Cape Cod get you down. The 2016 ballot initiative that legalized recreational weed in the commonwealth allows you to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. And that initiative also allows each resident to grow up to six of their own marijuana plants, so you don’t actually need a dispensary to enjoy recreational or medicinal marijuana in the state.You also have the option of a marijuana delivery.

Just don’t sell marijuana to your neighbors and friends if you do decide to grow it on your own land, because on your first offense you can still get smacked with up to a $5,000 fine for unlawfully distributing pot and you could also face up to two years in prison for distributing it outside of the legal parameters.


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