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State Senator Returns To Mass Cannabis Scrum, Calls For CCC Oversight

“The Cannabis Control Commission continues to operate in turmoil, with leadership disputes clouding the agency’s ability to successfully operate.”

With the insanity intensifying in the fight between the Cannabis Control Commission, suspended CCC Chair Shannon O’Brien, and state Treasurer Deb Goldberg, it’s easy to forget about the third appendage of state government that wants in on the action—the legislature. 

In September, state Sen. Michael Moore publicized a letter that his office sent to the chairs of the Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy “requesting an oversight hearing to bring better transparency and accountability to the agency.” Signed by three senators and two representatives, the letter stated that lawmakers want to “addresses seven primary points of dysfunction at the CCC”—from the nature of O’Brien’s suspension, to “Ongoing Governance Issues,” “Licensing Delays,” and “Extended and Overly Aggressive Investigations.”

Among their gripes, the authors also noted how “the CCC has engaged in semi-regular executive session mediation,” writing: “As the public is excluded from executive session, the specific items discussed in the mediation, its progress and status are all unclear. … As the Open Meeting Law makes clear, these issues are not intended to remain behind closed doors forever, and ultimately are expected to be resolved publicly.”

In response to Moore’s letter, CCC Chief Communications Officer Cedric Sinclair, writing on behalf of the agency’s Exec. Director Shawn Collins, hit back with their own letter less than a week later, defending the agency’s work with some minor concessions: “For all the progress the Commission has made, we have never hesitated to acknowledge that significant work still lies ahead for our agency. Our regulation of a substance that remains federally illegal, and all the unprecedented territory that brings, guarantees that fact.”

Three months later, though, CCC scandals are still in the headlines. This week was especially embarrassing, with dirty regulator laundry being strewn all over thanks to details coming from O’Brien’s legal filings. And following a judge postponing this week’s hearing for the ousted chair to challenge her suspension, Sen. Moore reignited his call for action. His proposed bill, An Act Establishing An Internal Special Audit Unit Within The Cannabis Control Commission, would, among other things, create a position for an “inspector general [who] may remove the director for cause and designate an interim director until a new director is appointed.”

“The Cannabis Control Commission continues to operate in turmoil, with leadership disputes clouding the agency’s ability to successfully operate,” Moore wrote in a post on social media this week. His Worcester district is in many ways the bustling heart of the Mass cannabis industry, with multiple dispensaries, cultivations, and manufacturing facilities that answer to state regulators. The senator continued, “My bill to create an internal special audit unit within the CCC would increase transparency, improve efficiency, and bring accountability to an agency that desperately needs it. It’s past time to enact it into law.”