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Mass Governor Healey Chimes In On CCC Dysfunction

“We are prepared to work with the Legislature and fellow appointing authorities on the path forward.”

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey has recently been asked to answer for her underlings regarding issues that prominent politicians prefer to steer clear from.

A week ago, she took time from her busy schedule to condemn the “terrible” behavior of a State Police investigator in the controversial Karen Read case. And if commenting about a prosecution witness in the middle of a high-profile trial isn’t odd enough, Healey also chimed in about yet another situation that is somewhat in her grip but spinning out of control—the culture at the Cannabis Control Commission.

“The Cannabis Control Commission has an important role to play in this emerging industry, and the Governor shares the concerns that have been raised about the ongoing situation,” Healey press secretary Karissa Hand said in a statement to WBUR.

Specifically, the public radio station asked about “recent turmoil at the agency, which includes high-level suspensions, allegations of a toxic work environment and a call by the inspector general for a special receiver to manage the agency tasked with overseeing the state’s now $7 billion marijuana industry.”

The spokesperson added, “We are prepared to work with the Legislature and fellow appointing authorities on the path forward.”

And on Monday, CommonWealth Beacon reporter Gintautas Dumcius caught Healey in Boston. Asked about the state of CCC affaists, the governor said, “I’ll be open to talking to legislative leadership, with the treasurer, with others on the best step going forward. … There needs to be a different direction here.”

Dumcius added, “Asked about putting the agency in receivership, Healey said, ‘I’m not taking a position on it now until I’ve had an opportunity to talk to others about this. But I certainly appreciate that it seems to be in a state of real concern, crisis right now. And a change is in order. What that looks like, I’m not sure.'”

This latest CCC drama comes on the heels of more than a year of infighting between commission members and high-level staffers, and amidst the ongoing suspension of Chair Shannon O’Brien. Earlier this month, Mass Inspector General Jeffrey S. Shapiro sent a scathing letter to House and Senate leaders urging them “to take immediate action to statutorily authorize the appointment of, and appoint, a receiver with the authority to manage the day-to-day operations of the CCC.”

“There is a sense of urgency to act to resolve the leadership issues at the CCC,” the OIG letter continues. “The chair has exercised her right to a hearing on her suspension by the Treasurer. The OIG does not have confidence that either the outcome of that hearing, whichever party prevails, or the adoption of a governance charter can resolve the leadership crisis at the CCC.”

Last Friday, CCC Acting Chair Ava Callender Concepcion responded to the inspector general’s call for receivership, writing in a letter to Beacon Hill leaders: “The challenges at the Commission are far from secret. We are committed to resolving them. In fact, we have a blueprint for a governance structure that is in its final stages of legal review and will be taken up at a public meeting.”

Among other things she pushed back on, Concepcion added: “What’s missing from the public narrative and ignored by the OIG’s directive is the Commission’s remarkable success. Just last week the Commission approved a measure that provides for legal transportation of cannabis to Dukes and Nantucket counties to counter an illicit market surge during the tourist season.1 Our recent enforcement actions include one of the largest fines ever issued to Trulieve, stemming from unsanitary conditions and workplace safety issues. This fine clearly signals that we insist that members of this industry provide safe working conditions without exception.”

This story is developing.