EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


February 4, 2014

Councilor's letter key to pot center license

Mayor refused to sign letter for medical marijuana clinic

HAVERHILL — “The City of Haverhill is neither in favor or opposed to the siting of a marijuana dispensary in the City of Haverhill.”

That declaration of neutrality in an application for a medical marijuana license by the nonprofit Healthy Pharms Inc. was a key factor in the state’s decision to give the group a provisional license to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Haverhill.

The words are from a letter written to the state by City Councilor Robert Scatamacchia when he was council president last year. Several councilors said they were not aware of the letter until recently and hadn’t seen it until a copy of Healthy Pharm’s application was provided to them by a reporter.

“That kind of letter should have been on the council’s agenda,” said Councilor William Macek, who added he has serious concerns about a medical marijuana dispensary on Hale Street, a busy section of the inner city.

Only applications with letters of either support or non-opposition received provisional licenses Friday from the state’s public health department. An application for a dispensary in Lawrence that included a letter of opposition from that city’s new mayor, Daniel Rivera, for instance, was rejected.

Mayor James Fiorentini said he was approached by a representative of Healthy Pharms and asked to sign a letter of non-opposition, but that he refused. Instead, the company got Scatamacchia to sign it.

In a phone interview yesterday, Scatamacchia said he signed the letter on behalf of the full council and that every councilor should have received a copy. Scatamacchia said he signed the letter, which is undated and is on official City of Haverhill stationary, when he was council president last year.

“I would never take a position as president that the other city councilors did not support or were not aware of,” he said. “It was not a unilateral letter by me. It was on behalf of the council.”

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