When Jordan Wallace says "I'm not a regular 19-year-old," he isn't bragging so much as stating a fact.
After all: How many "regular" 19-year-olds have established nonprofit corporations and applied to the state of Massachusetts for permission to dispense medical marijuana in the communities where they grew up?
This evening in Edgartown, Wallace makes his case to the town planning board that a year-long moratorium on prescription-pot dispensaries does not belong on next week's town meeting warrant. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall.
"A year-long moratorium is really inappropriate," Wallace said. "It's inevitable that some people who need this medicine now will be deceased" before they can get it in a safe and legal way, he continued.
The law of the land
Wallace himself is "not a pot smoker," he says. But as soon as he saw that 74 percent of Martha's Vineyard voters approved the medical marijuana question on last November's ballot — a significantly greater majority than statewide — he moved swiftly to form the nonprofit Kingsbury Group Corporation and submit his permit application to the state Department of Public Health.
"I'm going to represent the 74 percent who voted for this," Wallace told Patch in an in-depth interview last Friday, just before the DPH released its long-awaited draft regulations on medical marijuana distribution and use.
But, he continued, "we need to address everyone's concerns," including those of the minority who voted against the ballot proposition.
"I'm in this for the long haul, and I want it done right," said Wallace, a 2011 graduate of Martha's Vineyard Regional High School who matriculated at Boston University before putting his college education on hold last fall.
"The right thing for this community"
Wallace, whose family owns several Oak Bluffs businesses including Jim's Package Store and the Sand Bar & Grill, believes an Islander is the best choice for the Vineyard's medical marijuana dispensary, which he said should not be delayed by a moratorium in any Island town.
"This (proposed) moratorium is on dispensaries, not on marijuana," Wallace said.
"Until there is reasonable access to the medicine, people are still allowed to grow it and designate others to grow it," he continued.
"That means grow houses in residential neighborhoods that are virtually unchecked: They're not accountable to the towns," Wallace added. "You can't zone out caregivers."
In addition to the threat of unregulated pot-growing, Wallace said, there's the prospect of off-Island entrepreneurs vying for state permits to sell pot on the Vineyard.
"They have a lot of money in this industry and it's all cash," he said, adding that he is personally funding his own corporation.
Wallace believes "I'm doing the right thing for this community" by coming forward as a prospective dispensary operator, he said.
Wallace has assembled a legal team, corporation officers including Russ and Kirsten Gannon of Gannon & Benjamin Marine Railway and advisors from the community.
His advisory board currently has six members and he's looking for four more advisors with an interest in safely implementing the new law, Wallace said.
He wants to grow the medical marijuana on-Island so patients can know where their medicine originates, continued Wallace, who has potential dispensary locations lined up in all six towns.
"One of the properties we're looking at is agriculturally zoned," he said.
Are you ready for a marijuana dispensary on the Vineyard? Tell us in the comments.
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