Council Calls for Study of Haverhill Youth Surveys; Asks Why Cannabis Shops Aren’t Paying as Agreed

Dr. John L. Maddox, Haverhill school physician. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill city councilors agreed Tuesday the city should analyze eight years of Haverhill youth risk surveys, but some wondered why the city’s cannabis retailers aren’t footing the bill after most of them agreed to do so.

The data is to be analyzed after the City Council voted to take $41,000 from the city’s Youth Services and Mental Health account. Noting the analysis will be the basis for implementing a strategy to reduce substance abuse by Haverhill’s youth, Councilor John A. Michitson introduced school physician Dr. John L. Maddox who explained how that will work.

“It is best practice to survey your youth on a regular basis, either every year or every other year. We’re going to go back to 2013 because we have four surveys and we really never analyzed any of them. We got the raw data, but nobody really looked at trends and we can’t really say to communities and the families, these are the areas we really need to work on,” he explained.

Maddox said there are actually two surveys—one that measures risky behavior and a newer one, which was only used last year, that looks at positive assets and activities. He told councilors the school department has already invested $20,000, but more money is still needed. He said the data analysis alone costs $54,000.

While Councilor Melinda E. Barrett supported the project, she asked if any of the city’s marijuana outlets had contributed to survey costs, saying she believed that was a requirement of their operational permit.

“When we had the special permit hearing for (Full) Harvest Moonz, they were supposed to fund the youth survey and provide educational materials. Did you receive any money from them?” Barrett asked. Maddox responded, “No, and if you’d allow me, I remember that was not just that company. As far as I recall, we have not received any support from them.”

This prompted Barrett to propose adding to a previous motion by Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan to recommend approval of the spending to Mayor James J. Fiorentini. She suggested having City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. review the agreements made with the four local adult-use, recreational cannabis shops and collect any money due.

Councilors voted 8-0 to approve the motion with Councilor Michael S. McGonagle abstaining due to a potential conflict of interest.

Maddox told the council the analysis process will take approximately 10 weeks to complete.

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