Shannon O’Brien, the recently appointed chair of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, was suspended from her position by state treasurer Deborah Goldberg on September 14. A spokesperson told Boson.com the situation is a “personnel matter” and that they could not disclose details on how long the suspension might last.
O’Brien, a cannabis advocate and the former state treasurer, returned to a government role to assume the chair position after a 20-year hiatus from government work. Just weeks after taking oversight of the CCC, the Boston Herald learned she was involved in two cannabis license applications still under review that were not disclosed to the public. O’Brien was the co-owner of Greenfield Greenery, a planned outdoor cannabis cultivation in Massachusetts that had its license remanded after she assumed the chair position. Although the cultivator’s license was put on hold so officials could verify if O’Brien violated any disclosure regulations, the company was ultimately granted a license.
This summer, O’Brien described the commission as being “in crisis” during a meeting where she let members know CCC executive director Shawn Collins was planning to step down at the end of 2023, which she said would create “chaos.”
Collins stepped down for parental leave on September 11, 2023, but told the Boston Business Journal he did not resign.
According to the law establishing the CCC, a commissioner can be removed from their position by the governor, treasurer or attorney general if “guilty of malfeasance in office; substantially neglects the duties of a commissioner; is unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office; commits gross misconduct; or is convicted of a felony.”