Haverhill Voters May Be Asked to Reconsider Pot Approval

As a local Haverhill business owner attempts to open a marijuana shop downtown, voters may be asked to reconsider pot approval in the city. (File photograph)

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

With recreational marijuana now legal statewide, small business owner Caroline Pineau hopes to open a retail pot shop in downtown Haverhill—but that may not happen if City Councilors decide to petition voters with a special election ballot question.

Two years ago, Haverhill voters voted ‘Yes’ on Question 4, which meant that Massachusetts would join Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington state and District of Columbia in legalizing marijuana recreationally.

Following a City Council Administration and Finance subcommittee meeting last week to discuss zoning, Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien is expected to place an item on the Council agenda asking for a ballot question. As she explained during the subcommittee meeting, voters may not have been fully aware just how a ‘Yes’ vote would directly impact Haverhill’s local community.

Although the item would only be for discussion, councilors could motion and vote to advance it. If that happens, City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. must draft an ordinance subject to voters’ approval. Given the local nature of the question, a special election must be scheduled.

While recreational zoning is still up for discussion, Pineau, of Washington Street’s The Yoga Tree, has had her application for a retail location already fast-tracked. Pineau was one of 123 applicants given priority status by the Cannabis Control Commission as what’s called an economic empowerment applicant.

Pineau’s background and application is in the process of being fully vetted by the Cannabis Control Commission, giving her priority should pot shops start sprouting up downtown.

She has already secured more than 30 signatures from fellow downtown business owners who support her venture, and commissioned city architect Matthew Juros to develop preliminary storefront designs.

Haverhill’s City Council meets Tuesday, July 24 in Room 202 of City Hall, 4 Summer St. WHAV plans to broadcast the meeting live starting at 7 p.m.