5 Stunning Allegations From Top Regulator’s Lawsuit Against Treasurer

From an in-house “playbook” to do colleagues dirty, to targeted attacks, here’s what suspended CCC Chair Shannon O’Brien is claiming

With major news breaking in Massachusetts cannabis every few hours this week, it took us overnight to thoroughly examine the lawsuit that Cannabis Control Commission Chair Shannon O’Brien filed against state Treasurer Deb Goldberg in Suffolk County Superior Court yesterday. Goldberg, who appointed O’Brien to the top CCC spot last September, suspended the chair two weeks ago, setting off a firestorm of anger and speculation.

O’Brien is seeking an injunction barring Goldberg “from continuing her unlawful removal of O’Brien from her position at the CCC.” The suspended chair says she was booted “without notice, without articulated reason, and without any opportunity to be heard, all of which is required by [Massachusetts law].”

It’s worth reading through the whole document, especially for those who have paid close attention to the CCC over the past few months. O’Brien’s allegations about the workplace environment will likely be contested by the defendant as well as the accused agency employees and commissioners, in court or otherwise, but they do reflect frustrations that the chair often expressed among colleagues during public meetings.

This story is only beginning to unfold, with Goldberg’s office finally detailing why they suspended O’Brien. The treasurer wrote in a statement this week that was first published by State House News Service: “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.”

As the back and forth continues, here are five points from O’Brien’s suit worth noting:

In September 2022, Chair O’Brien attempted to schedule regular, in-person meetings with the CCC Executive Director to get caught up to speed on CCC business. Chair O’Brien was informed that the Executive Director does not come into the office on a regular basis and her request for regular meetings were rejected by the Executive Director. 

Months later, Chair O’Brien learned that she was the only commissioner that did not have regularly scheduled meetings with the Executive Director.

Chair O’Brien soon became aware that a “playbook” existed at the CCC where it became apparent that there was an entrenched bureaucracy at the CCC that would assert baseless allegations in order to cause lengthy internal investigations that were designed to force resignations.

At some point in 2022, CCC’s Executive Director informed Chair O’Brien that the CCC’s Chief Communications Officer, “hated” the former Chair and filed an internal complaint against the former Chair in order to force him out of his role as Chair. 

The Executive Director also boasted to individuals outside of the CCC that he personally got rid of the former Chair in an apparent concerted effort with another CCC employee.

Read the full complaint for injunctive relief here.