Baker Pushes for Law to Apply OUI Statutes to Marijuana

There is currently no breathalyzer-type test to gauge marijuana impairment. (File photograph)

As the number of stores selling marijuana in Massachusetts grows, Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday announced he’ll ask lawmakers to adopt the recommendations of a special commission that studied ways to deal with operating under the influence. According to the State House News Service, if the Legislature adopts the 19 recommendations from the Special Commission on Operating Under the Influence and Impaired Driving, a driver suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana who refuses to take a chemical test for impairment would lose their license for at least six months. That is the same penalty faced by suspected drunken drivers who refuse to take a breathalyzer test. Since late November, nine retail marijuana stores have opened their doors and regulators say they expect four to eight new stores opening each month.

Proposed Haverhill Marijuana Shops Plan Community Outreach Meetings

Stem and Full Harvest Moonz will discuss their proposed shops with Haverhill residents next week. (File photograph)

Two weeks after Haverhill confirmed retail marijuana zoning, two shops hoping to do business in the city are preparing to unveil their plans to the public. Next week, Stem and Full Harvest Moonz are hosting evening Community Outreach meetings to introduce proposals for locations at 124 Washington St., and 101 Plaistow Road, respectively, and answer questions from residents. Caroline Pineau’s planned downtown dispensary Stem is first up, holding a session Monday night at the downtown UMass iHub at 2 Merrimack St. A meet and greet with Full Harvest Moonz, headed by Weymouth-based CEO Janet Kupris, happens Tuesday at the Welcome Street Citizens Center at 5:30 p.m.

Security measures, a diversion program aimed at minors and a community impact plan are among the issues Kupris plans to discuss, according to the Full Harvest Moonz meeting notice.

First Haverhill Marijuana Dispensary Could Open By July, Says Fiorentini

A retail marijuana dispensary could open in Haverhill by the summer, Mayor Fiorentini said. (File photograph)

The City of Haverhill stands to gain between $500,000 and $1.5 million in revenue from retail marijuana dispensaries, according to new figures released this week. Ahead of the Jan. 9 Planning Board meeting to finalize zoning for retail locations, Mayor James J. Fiorentini said he is negotiating host community agreements with three possible shop owners looking to open in Haverhill. According to Fiorentini, the host agreement stipulates how much money vendors will pay the city—capped by state law at 3 percent of their revenue, plus an additional 3 percent in sales tax revenue.

Council Tables Haverhill Marijuana Shop, Zoning Talk Until January

Haverhill city councilors Tuesday placed a marijuana ordinance governing zoning and use in the city on file for 10 days at Tuesday night’s meeting. (File photograph)

An ordinance governing the use and zoning of recreational marijuana in the City of Haverhill has been placed on file for at least 10 days, with the City Council opting Tuesday night to table further discussion until early January. The decision comes after months of back-and-forth discussion about where and in what manner marijuana use can take place in the city. As the ordinance drafted by City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. stands, up to six locations—including retail shops and marijuana cultivators—may open in the city, with downtown’s Washington Street among the areas zoned for retail purposes. Councilors did not discuss the ordinance’s particulars Tuesday, instead placing it on file for a minimum of 10 days.

Former HHS Teacher Brown Details Planned City Marijuana Dispensary

The Mellow Fellows LLC includes former Haverhill High School teacher E. Philip Brown. (File photograph)

Retired Haverhill High teacher E. Philip Brown is living proof of just how marijuana can alleviate health ailments—he takes the drug for sleep apnea—and now the city resident hopes to open his own dispensary to help others. Registering his business with the state in September Brown currently oversees Mellow Fellows alongside business partners and fellow Hillies Timothy Riley and Charles Emery. As Brown tells WHAV, the trio is well on their way to opening a retail marijuana shop—but is waiting until the city confirms zoning before sharing more details. Of paramount importance for the longtime city educator active in civic groups is to make sure the retail shop is done right.

City Council to Address Final Steps of Marijuana Legislation in Haverhill

Marijuana legalization is in its final steps in Haverhill once city officials vote on regulations establishing where the product can be sold and how. (File photograph.)

Haverhill is gearing up for the sale of recreational and medical marijuana in the city, but will have to wait for the City Council to take a couple more steps to finalize the matter. According to the agenda for the council’s Dec. 11 meeting, an ordinance establishing a set of zoning rules and regulations for the sale of marijuana in Haverhill will be sent for approval by the Planning Board Jan. 9 before it goes back to the council for final approval Jan.

City Council Opposes Traffic and Parking Studies for New Marijuana Establishments

The prospect of Council-mandated traffic and parking studies for any proposed marijuana establishments in Haverhill was suggested by City Council President John A. Michitson after resident feedback. (File photograph.)

The Haverhill City Council Tuesday rejected the possibility of proposed marijuana shops having to undergo traffic studies. The council voted four to four, with the tie vote killing a request by City Council President John A. Michitson to have the council decide the need for traffic studies on a case-by-case basis. The question came in response to concerns stemming from the potential sales of marijuana on Washington Street, downtown. Michitson's request originally would have made the studies mandatory, but Councilor William J. Macek made the suggestion to instead have the Council vote on whether or not to require studies.

Downtown Dispensary Hopeful Pineau on Traffic Study: ‘Why Single Out a Cannabis Shop?’

Caroline Pineau asks city officials to reconsider a traffic study that could delay her proposed marijuana dispensary from opening for six months. (File photograph)

Longtime Haverhill business owner Caroline Pineau’s proposed cannabis shop has received priority status from the state—but closer to home, she continues to face an uphill battle. Pursing a downtown dispensary for the past several months, The Yoga Tree’s Pineau tells WHAV she’s put off by city officials’ 11th hour proposal of a traffic study that could delay her possible opening by six months. Adding to the confusion, Pineau said, is the fact that Mayor James J. Fiorentini previously told her he was willing to support not only one but two downtown dispensaries. With this about-face—put on Tuesday’s City Council agenda by President John A. Michitson—Pineau believes out-of-town applicants interested in other parts of Haverhill could have an “unfair advantage.”

“There are no traffic questions when other new businesses open up downtown: Why single out a cannabis shop?” she wondered.