Marijuana Store Opponents Deliver 200+ Signatures to City Hall

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.)

Haverhill City Councilors William J. Macek, Mary Ellen Daly-O’Brien and Michael S. McGonagle review the boundaries of a medical marijuana zone off route 97 near interstate 495.

Group Still Collecting Petition Signatures

More than 200 signatures were delivered to the Haverhill City Clerk’s office Friday, opposing siting of Healthy Pharms’ proposed medical marijuana store.

Unless it takes up the matter by suspension of the rules, however, the Haverhill City Council isn’t expected to hear pleas from the group at its regular meeting tomorrow. The item does not appear on the council’s agenda. Debra Maddox, wife of John L. Maddox, Haverhill Public Schools’ pediatrician, delivered the signatures. At least three members of the city’s Haverhill Overdose Prevention and Education (HOPE) task force collected the signatures. Petitions are still available to be signed, Dr. Maddox said Saturday.

“…the undersigned are opposed to the placement of a medical marijuana dispensary in Haverhill,” the petition states, and goes on the cite “health and safety” reasons. It also argues, “the proposed operator for the Haverhill dispensary, Healthy Pharms, has already been noted as misrepresenting itself and the community support it allegedly received from local officials.”

The misrepresentation allegation stems from Healthy Pharms’ application to the state Department of Public Health (DPH), where it claimed substantial support of local officials. Other reasons for their opposition include Haverhill’s status as “the epicenter of the Essex County substance abuse epidemic” and the existence of alternative medical marijuana forms available from ordinary pharmacies.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini is reportedly discussing a “host agreement” with Healthy Pharms. Petitioners hope to scuttle any host agreement in an attempt to defeat the company’s plans. They also plan to ask city councilors to make clear the city does not support Healthy Pharms.

Petitioners said they are concerned about misuse or abuse of marijuana-laced candies that might be sold by Healthy Pharms. “These candies are reported time and again as the cause for a child’s hospitalization because they grabbed the edibles rather than a gummy bear or tootsie roll,” the petition states.

In an email to WHAV Thursday, representatives of Healthy Pharms provided three studies, disputing any allegations medical marijuana exacerbates stronger drug use.

A study, conducted by Wayne State University Medical School in 2013, “found that medical marijuana patients consistently reported using marijuana to substitute or wean off prescription narcotic drugs. In the study, all of the interviewed patients reported having reduced their overall drug use, especially the use of opiates, by using medical marijuana,” according to information provided by Lesley Scott “Scottie” Gordon and Valerio Romano, attorneys representing Healthy Pharms.

A study by the American Medical Association found “states that enacted medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with the states without medical cannabis laws,” they said. Finally, a 2012 joint study published by the University of Colorado and the Institute for the Study of Labor suggested findings “were not consistent with the hypothesis that the legalization of medical marijuana caused an increase in the use of marijuana and other substances among high school students.”

Last year, Haverhill City Councilor Robert H. Scatamacchia said a letter of support he signed was obtained under false pretenses. Healthy Pharms used the letter as “Evidence of Local Support.” He said, Fiorentini received a letter from lobbyist James P. Jajuga and retyped it on to Haverhill City Council letterhead. Jajuga, also a former state senator and current Methuen city councilor, was later fined $2,500 for late disclosure of his drug lobbying work.

Back in November, city councilors adopted its Administration and Finance Committee’s plan to allow marijuana businesses in an area 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.


2 thoughts on “Marijuana Store Opponents Deliver 200+ Signatures to City Hall

    • These people are FOOLS and need to get over themselve’s. I hope every single person who signed the petition gets cancer and then they will see the error of their ways. Not to mention the tax revenue!!

      A treatment facility for heroin junkies is apparently ok but medical pot for sick and pain ridden people? OMG HOLD THE PHONE THE WORLD MIGHT END.

      Pull your heads out of your ASSES you idiot politicians. The PEOPLE voted it in. Stop screwing around with your self serving agenda’s!!