Mellow Fellows Makes Progress on Haverhill Host Agreement; Plans Wednesday Meeting

Mellow Fellows, which has been awarded a special permit to open a retail marijuana shop at 330 Amesbury Road, is making progress negotiating a host agreement with the city—a process slowed by federal scrutiny. The company’s lawyer, James Smith, tells WHAV there have been delays across the Commonwealth as a result of inquiries by U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling. Other than Fall River, where its mayor has been charged with extorting marijuana vendors, Smith says, “This (delay) is happening around the state. The U.S. attorney has subpoenaed communities around the state…I suspect, probably all…They’re looking for things, that at least in my experience, don’t exist.”

The lack of a host agreement—required by state regulations—for Haverhill, though, means Mellow Fellows must have a second community outreach meeting Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., at Haverhill Public Library, 99 Main St. The second meeting is required since establishments must hear from the public within six months of seeking state permission to operate.

Confusion Causes Haverhill Councilors to Reconsider Marijuana Parking Space Vote Next Week

Controversy over marijuana retailing continued to perplex Haverhill city councilors Tuesday night. Councilors believed they had approved a police department-recommended parking license for Haverhill Stem on Washington Street, but the vote actually fell short because of opposition from City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua and member absences. Councilors voted 4-1 to approve the use of two city-owned parking spaces on Phoenix Row, but five votes were required. The confusion was evident when acting Council President Thomas J. Sullivan assessed the vote. “We will assume it was a motion to pass and we will get a clarification from the city solicitor on that.

Report: Grand Jury Exploring Municipal Pot Agreements

A federal grand jury is looking into the mandatory agreements and payments between host communities and marijuana businesses, according to a report in the Boston Globe, delving into an issue that state regulators and legislators have also been wrestling with. The Boston Globe reported Monday night that at least six communities—Great Barrington, Eastham, Leicester, Newton, Northampton and Uxbridge—have received subpoenas from U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling’s office seeking details on the communities’ host community agreements with marijuana businesses. State law requires applicants for marijuana business licenses to enter into a host community agreement before the Cannabis Control Commission will consider an application. The law stipulates that those agreements cannot run for more than five years and that the community impact fee paid to the municipality by the licensee cannot exceed three percent of the establishment’s gross sales. But the CCC has wrestled with the policy for more than a year now as entrepreneurs, lawyers and lobbyists have shared stories about cities or towns demanding a greater percentage of gross sales or other asks that would not appear to comply with the language of the law.

Amesbury Road Neighbor Sues to Appeal Mellow Fellows Marijuana Special Permit

Nearly two months after Haverhill’s City Council voted to grant Phil Brown, Tim Riley and Charles Emery a special permit to sell marijuana as the Mellow Fellows, a neighbor on Amesbury Road is contesting the zoning of their property in Superior Court. In a civil action filed Oct. 8, Steven Eddy—filing individually and as a trustee of the 32 Wannalancet Road Realty Trust—brought suit against the City of Haverhill and all nine councilors, including Michael S. McGonagle, who owns the property in question at 330 Amesbury Road along with his sister Kathy McGonagle Darby. Eddy owns 298 Amesbury Road, which abuts the Mellow Fellows’ proposed shop. The zoning appeal submitted by Lowell-based Attorney William F. Martin Jr. calls the restrictions the Council placed on the Mellow Fellows—no more than four appointments every 15 minutes and a shelter for security personnel—“ entirely insufficient” because the company does not yet have a host community agreement inked with Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

PHOTO: Downtown Haverhill ‘Weedmaps’ Marijuana Billboard Removed After LePage Push

A downtown Haverhill billboard promoting marijuana use has been removed after Haverhill City Councilor Colin F. LePage personally petitioned Stoneham-based Clear Channel Outdoor. The ad near the corner of Essex and Locust Streets that once promoted online cannabis search engine Weedmaps was replaced earlier this week with a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration billboard encouraging seat belt use. As LePage tells WHAV, while the sign is just one of over 1,350 Clear Channel displays in seven counties across the state, he sees the swap as a victory for Haverhill. “This is a small victory in the whole scheme of things,” LePage told WHAV. He added that the change proves what can be done at the local level when there is more action and less talk on issues surrounding things like cannabis and youth prevention.

Cannabis Advocates Headed to Haverhill to Support Pineau’s Marijuana Shop Stem at Saturday Rally

Once again, the cannabis community is rallying behind Haverhill’s Caroline Pineau. Faced with a new lawsuit from Lloyd Jennings, J. Bradford Brooks and Stavros Dimakis that appeals the special permit already approved by city councilors, Pineau intends to open a shop called Stem at 124 Washington St. and this Saturday, marijuana advocates from across the state will come to her aid. Marblehead’s Mike Crawford is organizing the latest protest with backing from his politics and cannabis-centric Young Jurks podcast, telling WHAV he intends to rally in Haverhill’s Railroad Square area on Oct. 5 starting at 11 a.m. All are welcome, he said.

Bevilacqua Wins Approval for Marijuana Delivery Review; Worries About Newly Permitted Shops

Concerned about the impact of newly approved delivery service and social consumption cafes, Haverhill city councilors approved investigating how new regulations affects the city’s recreational marijuana store permitting. Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua, who has opposed siting adult-use marijuana stores in Haverhill, Tuesday night sought to find out if special permits previously granted need to be changed. “During the discussions of the four pot shops that were approved by the City Council, there was no mention of delivery, and the delivery could be literally anywhere in the city, anywhere outside of the city as well,” he said. Councilors voted to approve sending a letter to City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. asking if special permit conditions must be updated. The motion passed 7-0 with Council President John A. Michitson absent and Councilor Michael S. McGonagle abstaining.

Jennings, Brooks, Dimakis Ask Court to Overturn Haverhill Council Stem Marijuana Special Permit Vote

The trio behind the push to stop Caroline Pineau from opening her Washington Street marijuana shop Stem has again filed suit, appealing a special permit, WHAV has confirmed. In a Land Court filing dated Sept. 27, J. Bradford Brooks, Lloyd Jennings and Stavros Dimakis filed suit through Attorney Scott A. Schlager against Pineau and her business Stem, along with the City of Haverhill appealing the Sept. 10 decision made by the City Council to let her open for business at 124 Washington St. The suit also names all nine city councilors—including Michael S. McGonagle, in error.