Traffic congestion at the New Hampshire border emerged as the largest sticking point for a proposed recreational marijuana store—the first to come before the Haverhill City Council for a special permit.
After hours of debate, councilors postponed a decision on whether to allow Full Harvest Moonz’ proposed 95 Plaistow Road to advance. The public hearing also delivered the revelation developer Janet Kupris plans backup shuttle parking on Amesbury Road—the only neighborhood where two other pot shops are already proposed. Shattuck Street resident Chris Todino summed up the concern.
“We are the ones who are going to have to deal with traffic studies that are showing that the traffic is actually as close to the lowest grade it could possibly get, and it’s only going to get worse,” he said.
Councilors gave Full Harvest Moonz until June 4 to better address traffic issues, including possibly using an undisclosed Primrose Street location for shuttle parking.
A side debate, pushed by school pediatrician John L. Maddox, centered on whether voters should be asked to reconsider their support of adult marijuana retailers.
Councilor William J. Macek blasted the state legislature for warping voters’ wishes into “two classes of communities.”
“You may feel how infuriated I am by the fact that the legislature took away our local authority because we voted in favor of recreational marijuana, but the communities that didn’t—including Lawrence and Methuen—retained their local authority,” Macek said.
Citing a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, Maddox argued younger students “perceived risk and daily use of tobacco cigarettes or marijuana” is dropping because of such social debates. The Journal article said “marijuana, like other drugs of abuse, can result in addiction” with “long-lasting changes in brain function.” He said the loosening of these perceptions is behind an “explosion” of vaping shops. Worse, he added, legal marijuana has already made its way into Haverhill schools.
“There is an issue about diversion. There already been edibles confiscated from kids that are at school at our middle schools. It is already happening and it’s going to happen a lot more if we have one dispensary. It’s going to happen a heck of a lot more if we have six,” Maddox told councilors.
A motion by Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua to put the matter back before voters—possibly to cap the number of allowed stores—failed on procedural grounds.