HAVERHILL, MASS. (WHDH) - A Haverhill marijuana store is suing its host city over steep “community impact” fees that are imposed on local cannabis companies.

In a lawsuit filed by Stem in Essex Superior Court, the store argues that Haverhill officials have failed to explain how the fees are related to any negative effects caused by the presence of cannabis companies in the city.

“I think the city is not following the law,” Stem owner Caroline Pineau told 7NEWS. “We believe the city is asking for a large amount of money in impact fees without demonstrating any actual impacts to the community. We believe this is unfair and unlawful.”

Pineau is challenging the city’s authority to collect a community impact fee of  $400,000.

Under state law, cities and towns can charge up to three percent of a cannabis store’s gross revenues to offset costs incurred because of the pot shop.

Pineau is demanding that city clearly state what impact her store is having on the community.

“All we’re asking for is that the fees be substantiated and authenticated with documentation as required by the law and then we’d be happy to pay the money,” Pineau said.

In a statement Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said, “The City of Haverhill intends to vigorously defend this lawsuit and protect the residents and taxpayers of Haverhill. We are deeply disappointed that this one company, after gaining their permits and getting access to a prime location downtown, now seeks to avoid paying what they agreed to pay.”

David O’Brien, President of the Massachusetts Cannabis Business association, says nearly all of the cannabis operators around the state are experiencing the same issue.

“No operator should have to sue their municipality to ask them to obey the law,” O’Brien said. “In essence, every community has maxed out on the three percent, but no one has proven how they’ve spent the money.”

The case is expected to go before a judge by the end of May.

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