NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

February 11, 2014

Our view: Closer scrutiny needed in marijuana laws

(Continued)

The letter is largely the work of Jajuga, a former state senator and Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce president who is now a Methuen city councilor. Jajuga also runs Jajuga Associates, a consulting firm. Healthy Pharms hired Jajuga as a consultant to advise the company on “the political landscape in Haverhill,” the company’s lawyer said.

In November, Jajuga was shopping around letters in support of Healthy Pharms’ application. There were two versions of the letter: one a letter of support, the other a letter of “non-opposition.” Jajuga tried to get Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini to sign one of the letters, according to the mayor’s aide, David Van Dam. Fiorentini would not sign either; he said previously the siting of the dispensary was a council matter. Van Dam called Scatamacchia, who came to City Hall and signed the letter of non-opposition.

At the time Scatamacchia signed the letter, on city of Haverhill stationery, a City Council moratorium was in effect on locating a marijuana dispensary in the city. The moratorium runs until Feb. 25, but in light of the controversy, the council plans to take up the matter again this week.

Scatamacchia said he felt “duped” by Jajuga and the mayor. He said he thought the letter merely served to inform that state that the city had a moratorium on siting dispensaries in place. He said he was unaware that Jajuga had any involvement in the letter.

Jajuga said he was unaware the letters carried so much weight in the application process. That seems unlikely, given Jajuga’s effort to get one of them signed.

Additionally, the application of Healthy Pharms notes that four city officials or civic leaders met with the company and expressed their support for a marijuana dispensary. Three of the officials cited do not recall a formal meeting with Healthy Pharms but rather only informal conversations with Jajuga.

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