Council Bucks Voters, Seeks to Recriminalize Marijuana Tonight

Haverhill City Councilors William J. Macek, Mary Ellen Daly-O’Brien and Michael S. McGonagle review the recommended location of a zone for medical marijuana facilities. (WHAV photo.)

Further debate is expected from the Haverhill City Council tonight on a proposed city ordinance amendment to restrict public use and consumption of marijuana.

Councilor Michael S. McGonagle, Chairman of the council’s Public Safety Committee, will update the full council on its Jan. 21 meeting, during which the panel recommended strengthened language in the ordinance as police, school department medical personnel and the city solicitor provided input.

Insiders said Mayor James J. Fiorentini privately opposes the measure, saying it runs counter to voter sentiment. Councilors, however, were lobbied heavily by the police department, a source said.

The proposed amendment to an “ordinance relating to peace and order” would prohibit consumption of marijuana, medical marijuana or THC “in or upon any public way, or upon any way to which the public has a right of access, or any place which members of the public have access as invitees or licensees, in any park, playground, or recreation area, in a schoolhouse or on school grounds owned by the City of Haverhill.”

A first offense would be subject to civil penalties of a $100 fine. Violations in a school, or on school grounds, as well as subsequent offenses, would bring criminal prosecution, punishable by a $300 fine. Also, a noncriminal first offender who does not pay a fine ordered by a court clerk could be subject to a police complaint at the discretion of the citing officer.

Details of the strengthened language, integrated into ordinance form by the City Solicitor as part of a unanimously passed motion, were not included in released council documents

The Haverhill City Council meets at 7 p.m., tonight, in council chambers at Haverhill City Hall.