With Marijuana Zones Confirmed, Councilors Look Ahead to Special Permits

Caroline Pineau before the Haverhill City Council in 2019. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Special permits are next up in Haverhill’s road to retail marijuana shops. Caroline Pineau (pictured addressing the Council Jan. 15) is filing for her shop Stem. (WHAV News photograph)

Haverhill City Councilors voted to zone seven areas for recreational marijuana sales Tuesday night, with several members hinting at what they’ll look for during the upcoming special permit process.

Initially tasked with determining zones, the Council will soon evaluate and grant special permits to companies that have negotiated host community agreements with Mayor James J. Fiorentini. Councilor William J. Macek began the special permit discussion on WHAV’s Open Mic Show Monday night alongside Colin F. LePage and Melinda E. Barrett, making his opinions known to the larger group Tuesday.

“I don’t want to see one new business downtown create havoc for all the good businesses that are there now or anybody that’s coming,” Macek reasoned.

On Macek’s must list for special permit approval is appointment-only scheduling and an on-demand shuttle service, aimed at alleviating traffic concerns in congested zones like Washington Street.

LePage, who chairs the Administration and Finance subcommittee that pored over zoning logistics for nearly a year, wants to prioritize drug education during the special permit process.

“Youth prevention and education is a highlight. Things aren’t going to change if we keep burying our head in the sand and not realize what’s going on,” he admitted. “If you don’t think marijuana is being sold, it’s happening. If we can do it in a responsible, mature way, that’s what we should do.”

The Council has so far had no input on the three agreements Stem, CNA Stores and Full Harvest Moonz inked with Fiorentini to do business in the city. As WHAV previously reported, all agreements stipulate the profit percentage owners will pay to the city, along with safety and security plans.

In addition to Washington Street, approved zones include Amesbury Road, Broadway off Computer Drive, Knipe Road, Plaistow Road, River Street and South Main Street. Caroline Pineau plans to open Stem on Washington Street, with CNA and Full Harvest Moonz hoping to do business on River Street and Plaistow Road, respectively.

Should the special permitting and state approval phase go as planned, Fiorentini expects Haverhill’s first marijuana shop could open in July.