Haverhill’s First Marijuana Shop Opens, But Faces Renewed Court Challenge Today

A security guard sits in front of Stem, 124 Washington St., Haverhill. A sign notifies potential patrons they must make appointments online. (WHAV News photograph.)

Haverhill’s first recreational marijuana shop opened quietly this past Saturday with curbside pickup, but opponents will be in court today asking a judge to close the business.

Caroline Pineau, CEO and owner of Stem, 124 Washington St., told WHAV the store sold out every appointment Saturday and Sunday and all operations went according to plan despite added COVID-19 related controls.

“Customers left happy and excited, and there was really no line. The appointment system worked great,” she said.

Pineau explained the appointment system is a two-step process where patrons are first required to book an appointment and then, for the time being, order online. She said the state Cannabis Control Commission provided a commence to operate notice only last Tuesday. If it were not for the coronavirus outbreak, she explained Stem would have been ready to open in April. Her husband, Adam, recently joined the business as director of operations. Currently, Stem may book 20 appointments per hour.

However, longtime opponents Stavros Dimakis of Mark’s Deli and Realtor J. Bradford Brooks and Lloyd Jennings, owners of 128-130 Washington St., filed an emergency closure request Friday. Through Boston-based attorneys Alvin S. Nathanson and Scott A. Schlager, they said they learned of Stem’s planned opening through social media, and asked state Land Court Judge Robert B. Foster to close Stem until a full hearing on zoning issues is heard. Foster had previously declined to issue the preliminary injunction, but said the opponents could renew the request once Stem obtained its Final License to Operate.

Pineau, who opened her business despite being nine months’ pregnant, said she is confident about Stem’s future. “I can’t comment on that because it is litigation, but I’m confident in the end we’ll prevail.”

Dimakis, Brooks and Jennings said there is increased potential for marijuana products to be diverted to children since more people are picking up meals at nearby restaurants since schools are closed. They also said operation of the store violates zoning ordinances and result in “increased traffic, stigma, parking issues, queuing, diversion,” among other concerns.

Stem is open seven-days-a-week, Sundays, from noon-7 p.m., and Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

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