With the Island’s supply of legal marijuana dwindling, state regulators broke more than a decade of precedent to allow dispensaries on the Vineyard to ship in mainland cannabis products.

The Cannabis Control Commission Thursday approved an emergency action that, for the first time, authorizes the transportation of marijuana across state territorial waters to the Vineyard and Nantucket. 

The new regulations were partially prompted by a lawsuit from Vineyard dispensary owner Geoff Rose, who closed his Island Time shop in Vineyard Haven last month after the Island’s lone commercial marijuana growing facility announced it was shutting down. 

On Friday morning Mr. Rose was ecstatic about the commission’s decision and said he was in the process of reopening his dispensary, bolstering the Vineyard’s access to cannabis.

“Obviously, yesterday was a great day,” he said. “It’s providing equity for all operators on the Island to transport to and from the mainland.” 

The state has long maintained that any marijuana products sold on the Islands had to be grown there due to the federal prohibition on transporting cannabis through federal waters and airspace. 

In his suit, Mr. Rose challenged the commission’s ban, saying dispensaries should be able to transport marijuana to the Vineyard because the Sound is in state waters. 

After meeting with Vineyarders last week to learn about the dilemma, the Cannabis Control Commission ruled Thursday that dispensaries could go through state waters starting Friday. 

The Vineyard has two dispensaries and one grow facility. In May, Fine Fettle said it was winding down its dispensary and grow facility, leaving Mr. Rose without a place to legally stock his shelves.  Both the commission and Mr. Rose this week cited a want to stave off a situation where Islanders, including the 234 medical marijuana patients in the county, would have to turn to the illegal market, where products are not tested. 

“It is clear to all of us that this issue is a matter of public health, safety, and equity; as the result of this order, licensees will continue to play a key role in upholding these industry pillars with a new authority to transport legal products to and from businesses on Dukes County and Nantucket,” said commission acting chair Ava Callender Concepcion said.

Adam Fine, whose law firm Vicente represented Mr. Rose in his lawsuit, said he was in the process of settling the claim and Mr. Rose was getting a private vessel inspected to begin bringing marijuana back to his store. 

Under the new regulations, Mr. Rose will need to undertake randomized departure times and days, and make sure the boat has no markings indicating it is transporting marijuana. He will also need to have an operation plan approved by the commission. 

There is still some risk that dispensaries could run afoul of federal law enforcement, Mr. Fine said, as marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. Island Time was not going to use the Steamship Authority, which is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard, a federal agency. 

While staying in state waters is easier for the Vineyard, Nantucket marijuana retailers will have to take a longer route that runs from the mainland and stays close to the Vineyard, similar to the Steamship Authority routes of old when Woods Hole was the only port, Mr. Fine said. 

“I’m sure they are going to want to take advantage of this but it’s going to be a bit of trial and error,” he said. “We’re talking about a small craft, and the Vineyard trip is pretty easy.”