“Our drivers were accosted in the parking lot by the CCC team. They were shouted at and forced to open sample cases.”
As reluctant as we are to jump on piles and even have nice things to say about state regulators sometimes, at this point it is clear that the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has had an incredibly terrible past few months, all culminating in an increasingly negative media maelstrom this past week in particular.
I don’t characterize the sudden attention to Mass grass like that because reporters at major commercial and public broadcasting outlets are overstating the problems at hand, but rather because they are covering cannabis more aggressively than usual in the first place. For better or worse, and whether it’s warranted or not, the noise is only getting louder …
There was a messy leak of documents and data to writers Grant Smith Ellis and Eric Casey, as well as the concession that the commission is struggling with the task of investigating one major license holder, Curaleaf, for Russian oligarch ties among other allegations. That whole situation was put on full blast by GBH reporter Tori Bedford in an article titled “Cannabis regulators putting out ‘a series of fires’ involving a Russian oligarch and data breach.”
And then there was the suspension of Elev8 Cannabis licenses over employee treatment among other observations that some argue should have spurred regulatory action sooner.
Even laboratory scientists are scrapping with the CCC. In what may turn out to be the biggest story of the bunch, or at least the one that subsequently impacts the most litigation and tweaking of cannabis regulations, this week the Framingham-based MCR Labs accused CCC staff of “harassment” and “intimidation” during an unannounced inspection of their facility on March 21. Some of the details pointed out by MCR CEO and Founder Michael Kahn include:
- Upon arrival, the investigators refused to comply with our laboratory safety and security protocol, which requires all visitors to sign into our visitor log. They claimed exemption due to their affiliation with the ccc, but this is a safety violation as we need a full accounting of persons on site in case of emergency.
- During one of our routine sample deliveries, our drivers were accosted in the parking lot by the CCC team. They were shouted at and forced to open sample cases for inspection outside of our premises, which violates our safety protocols and sets an improper example.
- One incident captured on our security footage involved an MCR employee who reported having her personal space inappropriately violated by one investigator who physically touched her, while another stood over her.
And it gets worse, with Kahn essentially accusing regulators of storming the premises as retaliation for his publicly criticizing the commission earlier this month.
“I was critical of the commission’s approach to regulating independent testing laboratories during my presentation at NECANN on March 10th,” the CEO wrote in the letter. “The type of inspection that MCR underwent was not a constructive response. It remains imperative that we work collaboratively to address the critical issues of label inaccuracies and lab fraud, and I urge the CCC to adopt a more constructive approach.”
For the long version, I recommend the deeper look by Debra Borchardt at Green Market Report. If you have access, you can also check out the piece on Law360; regarding the allegations, a CCC spokesperson told the legal site that the agency reserves the right to do what it did, and “has several open enforcement matters regarding MCR Labs.”
Meanwhile, the CCC Research Subcommittee is working on its own “recommendations related to lab testing and product labeling based on its evaluation of existing reports.” If the commission ever stops using its meeting time to retreat into executive session to discuss personnel issues and whatever the fuck else is going on in there, plus handles all of the above, perhaps they’ll get to implementing some of the suggested changes.