Pot Moratorium Ends with Broadway Zone Selection

Healthy Pharms attorney Valerio Romano.

Healthy Pharms’ attorney Valerio Romano, as seen by television viewers.

Haverhill city councilors voted unanimously to lift the city’s moratorium on medical marijuana businesses.

Councilors adopted its Administration and Finance Committee’s plan to allow such businesses in areas of the Broadway business park, near routes 97 and 495. They rejected both pleas to add more areas for marijuana facilities and a planning board recommendation to omit northerly areas of the business park.

Downtown resident Janet VanStry asked councilors to include Healthy Pharm’s proposed Hale Street location among the zones. She said she suffered a broken neck a few years ago and it would be difficult for her to travel to Broadway.

“If I’m not able to get medical marijuana, I have to consider maybe I’m not really able to stay in this life, that it’s just no longer bearable.”

Councilor Mary Ellen Daly-O’Brien countered travel is unnecessary since Healthy Pharms promised to make deliveries. She said Healthy Pharms’ promises, however, have been “very cloudy.”

The entire process can be blamed on the federal government, said Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan.

“It is a disgrace that the federal government refuses to recognize marijuana for medicinal purposes so that it can be dispensed where it should properly be dispensed and that’s in our pharmacies.”

Healthy Pharms’ attorney Valerio Romano said he is happy a zone is being selected, but said the planning board’s omission will cause delays in setting up a dispensary.

“I have had an opportunity to look at the map. I don’t believe there are any existing buildings in that location…what that means is we’ll have to build from scratch and that puts off the timing for patient access significantly.”

In the end, councilors included the former Hans Kistle building in the zone—the only existing building there. In an exchange with Councilor O’Brien, Planning Board member Karen Peugh said there was concern about adding the building.

“They were not comfortable having the existing building there not knowing how Hans Kistle felt about having their building as part of,” Peugh said before being interrupted by Daly-O’Brien. “But see that isn’t part of what the whole thing is. When we change zoning for other reasons, that’s not what we’re doing (protecting a particular property owner).”

Healthy Pharms has received a provisional license for 114 Hale St. from the state Department of Public Health. With the new zoning, Healthy Pharms can either take the city to court or try to lease or buy property off Broadway.