‘Nothing Preventing’ Special Permit Hearing as Marijuana Case Against Pineau Moves to Federal Court

Caroline Pineau poses outside her proposed Haverhill marijuana dispensary Stem at 124 Washington St. (Jay Saulnier file photograph for WHAV News.)

Two days after a Council candidate, Realtor and local business owner filed suit contesting Caroline Pineau’s downtown marijuana shop Stem, the case has been moved to federal court, but City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. tells WHAV Pineau’s upcoming special permit hearing shouldn’t be impacted.

As WHAV exclusively reported on Wednesday, Council candidate Stavros Dimakis joined Realtor J. Bradford Brooks and Lloyd Jennings to bring suit against the City of Haverhill and Pineau, alleging that her proposed Washington Street marijuana shop would “destroy” the downtown business district.

According to Cox, the Haverhill City Council still plans to hear from Pineau as scheduled. “At this time, there is nothing preventing the special permit hearing from going forward on June 18,” he told WHAV Friday.

In their original claim filed in Land Court, Dimakis, Brooks and Jennings—represented by Boston-based attorneys Alvin S. Nathanson and Scott A. Schlager—contested the validity of her location’s zoning, arguing that Stem would have a negative impact on the area.

Brooks and Jennings own 128-130 Washington St., while Dimakis leases property from Evthokia Realty Trust at 2 Railroad Square and owns Mark’s Deli. The plaintiffs said Stem would “arbitrarily and unreasonably change the existing character of the neighborhood by increasing congestion in the streets…endangering children…and frequent patrons at Mark’s Deli.”

Such zoning-related claims are now not applicable in federal court. Instead, the plaintiffs intend to argue the federal criminality of marijuana in the U.S. District Court for the First District, according to their original filing.

“While the Department of Justice has exercised prosecutorial discretion in certain circumstances, it has not granted immunity from prosecution to any medical or recreational marijuana business on the basis that the business complies with state law, and especially has not done so for any recreational marijuana business. To the contrary, the DOJ has reserved all of its rights to prosecute violations of the Controlled Substances Act,” the plaintiffs say in their filing.

There is no date set yet for the federal hearing. 97.9 WHAV FM continues to monitor this breaking story.

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