In Separate Filings, Haverhill Asks Court to Dismiss Stem Lawsuit; Retailer Seeks Quick Turnaround

The City of Haverhill and Stem, a downtown marijuana retailer, exchanged new legal claims yesterday in Essex County Superior Court with the city asking that most claims against it be dismissed and Stem asking for “emergency relief.”

In its filing, Haverhill argues Stem, 124 Washington St., must pay “community impact” fees, not necessarily because of state law, but because the adult-use marijuana business agreed to do so in a contract; that it is too early to document “impacts” Stem may have caused especially in light of the health pandemic; Stem has not been financially harmed, but rather appears to have earned $13 million since opening; and not enough time has passed to verify and negotiate community impact costs. Stem, on the other hand, followed up on its earlier lawsuit, asking the court to act before May 26—the date Stem’s fee is due to the city or have the court hold the company’s $400,000 payment. If not, the downtown retailer said, it would suffer “irreparable harm” because the city could charge added interest and penalties if the fee isn’t paid on time. Stem added the city should be prevented from using any of the company’s payment when it is made until it proves there has been an adverse community impact and the financial cost. In a statement, Stem’s Caroline Pineau said, “The law says the impact fee needs to be reasonably related to a cannabis establishment and that the fee must be documented.

Haverhill Marijuana Shop Files Suit Against City, Arguing it Does Not Have to Pay ‘Community Impact’ Fee

This story has been updated to include an additional statement from Stem. The owner of an adult-use marijuana shop filed suit Friday against Haverhill, saying the company should not pay “community impact” fees unless the city proves the added cost of hosting cannabis businesses. Stem, which opened nearly a year ago at 124 Washington St., asked Essex County Superior Court to make Haverhill “provide the required documentation and substantiate the fee,” allow the court to hold the fee until the matter is resolved and prevent the city from recovering certain legal costs. Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini disputes Stem’s contention the city must justify the fee and argues Haverhill gave the store a downtown monopoly in exchange for the agreement. “They wouldn’t be there had they not come in and voluntarily said they wanted to pay and agreed to pay a community impact fee.

Mellow Fellows Planned Marijuana Store Gains ‘Expected’ Investors and New Landlord

Mellow Fellows, a permitted marijuana retailer, is expected to gain two investors and open by late summer. The company, operated by three Haverhill residents, remains a tenant at 330 Amesbury Road, Haverhill, even as its landlord changed last Friday. Mac & D Realty, operated by Kathleen Darby and her brother, City Councilor Michael S. McGonagle, sold the property to Mass Prop Invest for $1.35 million. Attorney Jim Smith, representing Mellow Fellows, described the transaction as routine. “It was really expected from the beginning.

Disabled Veteran Makes First Purchase at Haverhill’s Second Marijuana Store to Send Message

(See photograph gallery below.)

Massachusetts Army National Guard Veteran Stephen Mandile made the first purchase Tuesday when CNA Stores opened its adult-use marijuana business on River Street in Haverhill. Mandile, a 2004-2005 veteran of the Iraq War, sought not only to signal his support of a veteran-owned business, but also veterans’ access to cannabis as way to combat the opioid overdose epidemic and address the veteran suicide crisis. As a sergeant serving in Operation Iraq Freedom 3 with the 793rd Military Police Battalion, he was medevacked home with a severe spinal cord injury. “For 10 years, I was addicted to all of the opioids and other medications that I was getting from the VA. I lost purpose for quite awhile and made the switch to cannabis,” he explained

He now serves as the assistant legislative director for Disabled American Veterans Department of Massachusetts and is president of Alternative Treatment for Veterans.

Second Adult-Use Recreational Marijuana Shop Opens in Haverhill Today

The second of Haverhill’s approved adult-use, recreational marijuana stores is set to open today. CNA Stores, of Amesbury, opens at 558 River St., following a ribbon-cutting ceremony. CNA, which stands for Completely Natural Alternatives, is a veteran-owned and operated cannabis company. CEO Rob DiFazio said, “We’re very excited to welcome customers into our newly-renovated store.” DiFazio said those that are 21 years or older may schedule an appointment or order products online for pickup by clicking on Haverhill at cnastores.com/haverhill-cannabis

The store is open Sunday-Wednesday, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from 10 a.m-8 p.m.

The company has made a commitment to honor veterans and give back to the communities where they do business. Employees at all levels are encouraged to participate in philanthropic efforts and community volunteer projects.

Handful of State Legislators Oppose Proposed Home Delivery of Recreational Marijuana

A handful of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have asked that Massachusetts marijuana regulators scrap the proposed delivery license that would let operators buy marijuana wholesale from cultivators and manufacturers, store it in a warehouse and deliver it to consumers at home. The Cannabis Control Commission is expected Tuesday morning to consider feedback and hold a final discussion about its draft delivery policy, which would create two distinct delivery license types: a “limited delivery license” that would allow an operator to charge a fee to make deliveries from CCC-licensed retailers and dispensaries, and a “wholesale delivery license.” But in a letter last week, 19 state lawmakers told the CCC that they “believe that the wholesale delivery license category proposed in the draft regulations was not contemplated, nor supported, by the enabling legislation” and asked the commission to reconsider its plan to take a final vote on the regulations next week. No local legislators signed the letter, but others—including former Marijuana Policy Committee co-chair Rep. Mark Cusack—said the successful 2016 legalization question and the ballot law as amended by the legislature in 2017 “deliberatively and intentionally created a license that made clear delivery of marijuana to consumers is directly and only linked to marijuana retail establishments” and that “a wholesale delivery license direct to consumers is clearly not contemplated in the law.”

“Instead, the draft regulations create a shadow direct to the consumer marketplace not governed by the licensing requirements and regulations of marijuana retailers. These draft regulations also significantly change the landscape for cities and towns after many had already engaged in intensive community-wide conversations about the number and types of marijuana establishments their communities wished to host,” the lawmakers wrote. “Further, the proposed draft regulations have not had the opportunity to be sufficiently reviewed and may result in unintended consequences to our municipalities.”

The concerns about local control mirror those raised in a letter from the Massachusetts Municipal Association, which told the CCC that it “is extremely concerned with the definition of marijuana wholesale delivery license within the draft regulations ...

Haverhill City Council Kills Proposed 5th Marijuana Shop Over Traffic Concerns

Plans for opening another pot shop on Route 125 in Bradford were snuffed out at last night’s Haverhill City Council meeting. Representatives for the Frosty Nug, who were seeking a special permit to operate a recreational marijuana store at 1181 Boston Road, pointed out the advantages they retailer would bring to the city and rebutted concerns expressed by City Engineer John H. Pettis III over an expected increase in traffic. Scott Thornton, of the Andover based traffic engineering firm Vanasse and Associates said his company completed a traffic analysis at the beginning of the year and determined the operation would increase traffic in that area by only .6 to 1.3 percent and would likely go down from there. “As more of these facilities become operational, we expect the traffic volume to decrease,” he said. In his original comments on the proposal, Pettis said an additional 450 automobile trips per day, six-days-a-week is “a significant concern.” He said he raised similar objections to the proposed Dunkin’ shop at 915 S. Main St.

City Departments Flag Traffic Concerns as Frosty Nug Marijuana Plan Goes Before Council

Haverhill’s Engineering Department opposes plans to site an adult-use marijuana store on Route 125 in Bradford because of traffic concerns. The Haverhill City Council is being asked tonight to grant a special permit to locate the Frosty Nug at 1181 Boston Road, Haverhill, near the North Andover line. City Engineer John H. Pettis III, in comments on the proposal, said an additional 450 automobile trips per day, six-days-a-week is “a significant concern.” He said he raised similar objections to the proposed Dunkin’ shop at 915 S. Main St. “and those concerns have proven to be well-founded as there have been numerous accidents at the location, some very serious.”

Economic and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr. also said a traffic study should place “heavy emphasis” on proposed solutions to additional Route 125 traffic created by the store. “This should include deceleration lanes and turning lanes on Route 125 in both directions,” Pillsbury said.