Fine Fettle, the Vineyard’s only legally-permitted cannabis producer, has stopped growing marijuana on the Island and will close its dispensary later this year.

“Very sadly, we have had to make the decision to slow down and then ultimately shut down operations on the Vineyard,” company president Benjamin Zachs told the Gazette Friday by telephone.

Connecticut-based Fine Fettle purchased the West Tisbury cultivation and retail business in 2021 from Geoff Rose of Patient Centric, Inc., the Island’s first cannabis entrepreneur.

All cannabis sold at retailers on the Island has to be grown on the Island. — Maria Thibodeau

The company grew marijuana indoors at a leased property on Dr. Fisher Road and continues to sell dried flower buds, pre-rolled joints, extracts and edibles from the Fine Fettle dispensary on State Road.

“We do have quite a bit of inventory, and it’s fresh and good,” said Mr. Zachs, who estimated that the dispensary will run of stock and close this fall.

The Vineyard operation failed to succeed due to a combination of regulatory and financial causes, said Mr. Zachs, whose company has another Massachusetts dispensary in Rowley that will remain open.

Cannabis producers in Massachusetts are required to test their soils, which on the mainland would be done at a third-party laboratory. 

But because the waters around Martha’s Vineyard are under federal jurisdiction, Mr. Zachs said, Fine Fettle had to set up its own testing protocols to avoid violating the federal marijuana ban.

“For us, while Martha’s Vineyard is in Massachusetts, it’s like a whole other state with a whole other regulatory structure,” he said.

Fine Fettle’s growers also had difficulty tailoring cannabis production to match the Island’s seasonal ebbs and flows in demand, Mr. Zachs said. 

“The plants don’t care what time of year it is,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Zachs said, competing dispensaries have proliferated over the past few years on Cape Cod and the south coast, where customers can pick up their goods on the way to the Vineyard instead of waiting until they arrive.

There’s still a chance, he said, that Fine Fettle will find a buyer to take over the West Tisbury operation, which includes state licenses for cultivating, processing, testing and dispensing cannabis and is currently staffed by experienced Islanders.

“I think someone’s going to make this happen and make this work eventually,” he added. “I’m really hopeful of that, ultimately.”

With Fine Fettle closing, there will be only one other dispensary on the Island — Mr. Rose’s Island Time in Vineyard Haven. Mr. Rose has also expressed interest in opening a location in Oak Bluffs, putting forward a zoning petition at town meeting earlier this year that was rejected. 

While preparing to pull out of the Vineyard market, Mr. Zachs been thinking a lot about how a future cannabis company could succeed here, he said.

“There should be one operation on the Island with a grow and probably three dispensaries, one up-Island, one in Vineyard Haven and one in Edgartown or Oak Bluffs, [keeping] one open in the winter,” he said.

While the other two stores are closed from November to April, Mr. Zachs envisioned the managers would focus on a cultivation schedule that meets the Island’s cycles of demand.

“Somebody’s going to crack this nut,” he said.