Opponent: Pot Store Withdrawal a Defeat for ‘Backroom Politics’

O'Dea at WikiCommons. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Former Senator James P. Jajuga's work for Healthy Pharms resulted in a $2,500 fine for late disclosure of his drug lobbying work. Jajuga, a Methuen city councilor, also formerly served as the paid president of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce.

Former Senator James P. Jajuga’s work for Healthy Pharms resulted in a $2,500 fine for late disclosure of his drug lobbying work. Jajuga, a Methuen city councilor, also formerly served as the paid president of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce.

Haverhill loses a purported $500,000 host agreement, but, in the words of one opponent, defeats “backroom politics” after Healthy Pharms won endorsement of its plans to relocate its proposed marijuana store to Georgetown.

Town leaders in Georgetown this morning issued a letter of “non-opposition” in support of a proposed medical marijuana dispensary by Healthy Pharms, the applicant for a similar facility in Haverhill. The Georgetown Board of Selectmen issued the letter following its unanimous vote Monday night, selectmen Administrative Assistant Janet Pantano told WHAV. The letter of non-opposition is a state Department of Public Health (DPH) requirement—one that Haverhill city councilors early last month refused to endorse. Haverhill Public Schools Pediatrician John L. Maddox, called Healthy Pharms’ withdrawal from Haverhill “a real victory for democracy and a defeat for backroom politics.”

“I am deeply grateful to the nearly 500 Haverhill citizens who signed a petition who also didn’t want them here.  I am very appreciative of the majority of our city council, which heard both sides of the debate, and voted against welcoming them here,” said Maddox.

In March, Maddox and others presented the Haverhill city council a petition “opposed to the placement of a medical marijuana dispensary in Haverhill” for “health and safety reasons.” When asked by WHAV why he believed Healthy Pharms turned to Georgetown, Maddox noted the Haverhill council’s objections to alleged misrepresentation of support for a dispensary. “The council’s refusal to sign the letter was huge; that’s where we focused our energy,” Maddox said.

Following a tense debate between councilors and Mayor James J. Fiorentini May 5, the council voted 5-2 against a motion to support the mayor’s plan to send a letter to the DPH, offering “non opposition at this time (is) wholly contingent upon Healthy Pharms seeking and obtaining approval for a special permit by the Haverhill city council.” It also would have notified the agency of “no opposition” to Healthy Pharms updating its site registration include to Research Drive in the Broadway industrial park. Councilor Michael S. McGonagle was absent and council Vice President Robert H. Scatamacchia abstained on the advice of President John A. Michitson.

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

Voters approved permitting medical marijuana facilities. Some Healthy Pharms opponents said they do not dispute voters’ rights, but rather the dirty money political process that saw Jajuga paid for misleading the state into believing Haverhill had endorsed a particular corporation. Other opponents voiced concerns that voters were not aware of Haverhill’s significant drug abuse problem when the ballot question passed. Healthy Pharms disputed marijuana is a “gateway” to harder drugs such as heroin.

WHAV requested comment from Healthy Pharms Attorney Valerio Romano.

Last month, the Haverhill city council established a host agreement negotiating committee for a proposed medical marijuana dispensary while denying support for a “non opposition” letter to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).

Referring to a study, which claimed young people have accessed marijuana diverted from dispensaries, Maddox also offered advice to Georgetown officials. “Be very careful and please keep the diverted marijuana stock out of Haverhill,” Maddox said.

2 thoughts on “Opponent: Pot Store Withdrawal a Defeat for ‘Backroom Politics’

  1. Dr. Maddox, congratulations to you and your wife for the leadership you provided on this issue!!! Without the efforts of you and all the people you recruited to stop this from coming to Haverhill we most likely would have gotten stuck with it.

    This issue put a spotlight on the corruption that goes on at the local level in this state where entrenched politicians can lie and commit fraud with impunity. Jajuga should have immediately lost his lobbyist license and the lying, cheating mayor should have been disbarred.

    • I agree. The Mayor should be disbarred but in order for that to happen. a complaint must be filed with the Bar of Overseers. Until that happens, no actionable interest will be generated.