Cannabis Control Commission Chairwoman Shannon O’Brien has been suspended from her position by Treasurer Deborah Goldberg. It is unclear why O’Brien was placed on paid suspension, and whether the intention is to ultimately remove her from the CCC. O’Brien received a letter stating that she is not allowed to return to any of the Commission’s offices or conduct any work on its behalf during her suspension. She must also return all Commission property that is in her possession.
O’Brien, who served as state treasurer from 1999 to 2003, has had a tumultuous tenure as chair of the CCC. Issues arose surrounding her former ownership stake in a cultivation company that had an application before the CCC, but she was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing. In addition, she caused confusion when she announced that the executive director of the CCC, Shawn Collins, would be stepping down at the end of the year. However, Collins denied these claims and said he did not have any set plan to leave.
O’Brien has a background in politics, media, and nonprofit work. She previously served in the Massachusetts House and Senate, and was the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor in 2002. After leaving politics, she worked at a Boston TV station and served as CEO of the Girl Scouts of Greater Boston. She was appointed as chair of the Pension Reform Commission by New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli from 2008 to 2010. Treasurer Deborah Goldberg selected O’Brien for the CCC chair position in August 2022.
The CCC is responsible for regulating the cannabis industry in Massachusetts, and the chair is appointed by the treasurer. O’Brien’s suspension adds to the ongoing upheaval within the CCC, as it continues to navigate its regulatory and policy responsibilities.