HAVERHILL — The city has missed its chance to host one of the first medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts, and now risks seeing the state give hardship licenses to hundreds of residents who would be allowed to grow and use pot in their homes.
That’s according to a lawyer representing a nonprofit organization that wanted to open a medical marijuana dispensary in a building on Hale Street near the city’s Acre neighborhood.
A former spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Health who runs a public relations firm that markets medical marijuana businesses agreed with the lawyer’s opinion.
The City Council was poised last Tuesday night to create a special zone limiting medical marijuana facilities in Haverhill to the Hale Street industrial area, just outside Lafayette Square.
The committee of city officials developing the zoning proposal also considered allowing marijuana facilities in the Ward Hill Business Park in the city’s Bradford section. However, the committee eliminated that Ward Hill area just prior to Tuesday’s council meeting due to neighborhood opposition and concerns from city officials about a business opening a medical marijuana plant in a high-profile building in the park such as the Global Ware Solutions building. That building at 200 Ward Hill Ave. is vacant and was also being eyed as a possible medical marijuana site.
At Tuesday’s public hearing on the zoning proposal, the council voted to postpone its consideration of the measure and to continue the city’s temporary ban on the facilities until at least Feb. 25. The delay is designed to give councilors more time to consider where they should be located and residents a chance to give their opinions. Mayor James Fiorentini’s committee developing the zoning measure got its latest proposal to councilors only a day or so before they were asked to approve it.