former massachusetts cannabis control commission head sues over suspension 246657

Former Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission Head Sues Over Suspension


The former chairwoman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) is suing the state treasurer after she was removed from… Read More 

​ The former chairwoman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) is suing the state treasurer after she was removed from her position leading the agency, SHNS reports. In the lawsuit, Shannon O’Brien accuses Deborah Goldberg of removing her as head of the CCC “without notice, without articulated reason, and without any opportunity to be heard, all of which is required by the clear and unambiguous provisions of Massachusetts law … as well as basic norms of due process.” 

Goldberg had appointed O’Brien to chair the CCC a year ago but suspended her two weeks ago without offering a reason publicly. In a statement following the suspension, but prior to the lawsuit, Goldberg said she removed O’Brien based on “several serious allegations” made by an unnamed commissioner and staff about her behavior. In a response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for Goldberg said the treasurer “is confident that she has taken the appropriate actions to address the matter.”

“Several serious allegations were made by a Commissioner and CCC staff about the Chair’s behavior and the CCC initiated an investigation, hiring an outside law firm. The law firm undertook an investigation and has returned with a report. According to the CCC’s employee handbook, suspension with pay is the only allowable remedy at this point, as the findings are being reviewed and action is considered. A second challenge involved in this situation is that the enabling legislation for the Commission clearly establishes the CCC as an independent entity. The role of the Treasurer is to appoint the Chair and jointly appoint two other Commissioners, but beyond that the office of the Treasurer has no other authority, oversight, management, or influence over the Commission.” — Goldberg in a statement 

The lawsuit is asking for a preliminary injunction to stop Goldberg from removing O’Brien, describing the move as “unlawful.” 

Last year, the CCC’s first chair, Steve Hoffman, resigned from the position. O’Brien’s lawsuit claims Hoffman left the role after the agency’s “entrenched bureaucracy” made “false allegations against him.” At that time, Hoffman offered no reason for his departure, saying it was “a natural inflection point when the time is right for a transition in leadership.”   


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