A long-planned medical marijuana dispensary in West Tisbury has been referred to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission for review, in light of a new proposal to locate the business within a much larger building that has yet to be built.

The West Tisbury zoning board voted unanimously last week to refer the project to the commission as a development of regional impact (DRI) because it involves a building that is larger than 3,000 square feet.

Geoff Rose, doing business as Patient Centric of Martha’s Vineyard, had planned to open the dispensary at 505 State Road in West Tisbury, an existing 2,000-square-foot building, but his plans changed when he learned that the building would need to include an independent laboratory for product testing. Mr. Rose told the Gazette this week that it wasn’t until after he received his provisional license from the state last year — a first for the Island — that he learned that testing would need to be done onsite.

Being located on an Island added a wrinkle to the plans, since the U.S. Coast Guard enforces federal law and will not allow marijuana to be transported by ferry to the mainland, even to a mainland testing facility.

“It wasn’t an issue of not being aware,” Mr. Rose told the Gazette. “I had gone through the entire application process, was compliant in every way, and then the last question that was posed to me was how do I plan to traverse the waters.” The Department of Public Health, which regulates marijuana dispensaries in the state, ultimately decided that he would need an onsite laboratory.

The proposed site for the new dispensary at 90 Dr. Fisher Road, which runs between State and Old County roads just north of the West Tisbury School, would provide the necessary space, but has raised new concerns. Mr. Rose plans to rent about 6,000 square feet from Jim Eddy, the owner of Big Sky Tents, whose own plans for a 9,600-square-foot building were approved by the MVC in 2010.

Zoning board member Larry Shubert said he believed the idea was to create a space large enough for both businesses, although the zoning board application did not mention any use by Big Sky Tents. “They applied just for what Mr. Rose wanted,” he told the Gazette, adding that he would be reluctant to approve only a partial building. “They would have to tell us what the rest of the building is for.”

To comply with a town bylaw related to marijuana dispensaries that voters adopted in 2013, the project will need a special permit from the town, but that process is now on hold until after the MVC review. The project will also require a regular building permit and additional approvals by the state.

The MVC will consider, among other things, whether the project has an overall benefit in terms of its environmental and cultural effect on the Island.

Echoing the debate seven years ago when Big Sky Tents came before the MVC, some residents have raised concerns about traffic and lighting on Dr. Fisher Road, part of a network of protected special ways. Others oppose the site’s proximity to the West Tisbury School, which lies about 2,400 feet to the south. (The state requires marijuana dispensaries to have a buffer of 500 feet from places where children gather.)

“We work very hard to have our students make healthy choices, stay away from substance use and abuse,” Island schools superintendent Matt D’Andrea told West Tisbury selectmen at a well-attended meeting last Wednesday. “I fear that having this type of business as close as it would be to the school might send the wrong message to our students.”

Mr. Rose has countered that the distance between the dispensary’s original location on State Road and the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School is even shorter. (The distance is about 1,600 feet.) He has also stressed that the state requires various security measures, including an alarm for every door and window, and exterior lighting.

“Once a lot of the information is known about the regulations and the security, the construction, the safety, I am hoping that people will understand that this is a benign and safe location,” Mr. Rose told the Gazette.

With Martha’s Vineyard public schools on vacation break this week, Mr. D’Andrea was unavailable for comment. West Tisbury School principal Donna Lowell-Bettencourt and assistant principal Mary Boyd did not return calls from the Gazette.

The selectmen last week declined Mr. Rose’s request for a letter of non-opposition to the new location (one requirement of the state), at least until after the zoning board had weighed in. On Wednesday this week, selectman Cynthia Mitchell noted that such a letter was not needed for the proposal to be approved by either the zoning board or the MVC, and that those approvals would likely need to come first.

“Until the local process is complete, I doubt that we’ll be acting on that question,” she said.

In addition to the letter of non-opposition, state requirements for changing the location of a dispensary include a $10,000 non-refundable fee, and a plan for maintaining a positive relationship with the community. The state also requires that the applicant provide an accounting of capital expenses associated with the new site.

At both meetings last week, residents raised concerns about a medical marijuana dispensary eventually becoming a retail business. But Mr. Rose said that would be impossible, at least for now, since the state only issues retail licenses in towns with package stores. “There are no package stores in West Tisbury,” he said.