Haverhill Councilors Note New Cannabis Fee Law, Seek Money for Drug Prevention, Treatment

Haverhill City Councilor Melissa J. Lewandowski. (Courtesy photograph.)

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

Haverhill city councilors are expected tonight to discuss the impact of a new state law requiring renegotiation of impact fees paid by cannabis retailers and communities.

Councilor Melissa J. Lewandowski and Council Vice President John A. Michitson placed the item on City Council agenda. They appeared to acknowledge expected dollars from such agreements may not be available, noting the need for “allocation of other funding towards preventative and addiction treatment services.”

As WHAV reported a month ago, Gov. Charlie Baker signed legislation mandating new host agreements with cities and towns following what one Haverhill cannabis shop owned calls “municipal extortion that has hampered small entrepreneurs.” Caroline Pineau, CEO and owner of Stem of downtown Haverhill, was among those advocating for a change in the law. She went so far as to file suit last year against Haverhill, saying adult-use cannabis shop should not pay “community impact” fees unless the city proves the added cost of hosting such businesses.

Haverhill City Councilor John A. Michitson. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Last January, councilors agreed to use Cannabis Local Impact Fees, collected from the city’s four retailers, to pay for youth mental health programs. Councilors agreed to requests by Mayor James J. Fiorentini to add $171,000 to the city’s Youth Activities/Mental Health Stabilization Fund and use $42,000 to pay for analyses of several risk behavior surveys designed to help develop to fight youth substance abuse.

School physician Dr. John L. Maddox previously sought the review of four surveys dating back to 2013. During the permitting of cannabis shops, he also consistently sought fees and shop donations to pay for substance abuse prevention programs.

The Haverhill City Council meets tonight at 7, online and in the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers, room 202, City Hall, 4 Summer St., Haverhill. As a public service, WHAV plans to carry the meeting live.

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