Cannabis Commission Fisticuffs.. It’s Getting Nasty In Massachusetts

If they spent as much time on the job as they do bickering with one another in court maybe somethimg would be achieves reports


BOSTON (SHNS) – Shannon O’Brien, the former state treasurer and Democratic nominee for governor, filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing Treasurer Deborah Goldberg of unlawfully removing her as chairwoman of the Cannabis Control Commission.

The lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, is the latest sign of upheaval around the agency that oversees the state’s legal cannabis sector and lays bare details of internal acrimony.

A hearing on the preliminary injunction that O’Brien is seeking to stop Goldberg “from continuing her unlawful removal of Chair O’Brien from her position at the CCC” is scheduled for next Friday, Oct. 6.

Goldberg, who appointed O’Brien to chair the CCC a year ago, suspended her without publicly offering a reason two weeks ago. Hours before O’Brien’s lawsuit was first reported by the Boston Globe, Goldberg issued a statement saying she moved to suspend O’Brien based on “[s]everal serious allegations” that were made by an unnamed commissioner and CCC staff about O’Brien’s behavior.

The office of Howard Cooper, a founding partner at Todd & Weld LLP who represents O’Brien, did not respond to questions from the News Service on Thursday.

O’Brien’s lawsuit charges that “Treasurer Goldberg removed Chair O’Brien without notice, without articulated reason, and without any opportunity to be heard, all of which is required by the clear and unambiguous provisions of Massachusetts law … as well as basic norms of due process.” It argues that O’Brien has suffered professional and personal harms as a result.

The state law that dictates how appointments to the CCC are made includes a section giving a treasurer (as well as a governor and attorney general) the ability to remove a commissioner they appointed if the commissioner “is guilty of malfeasance in office; substantially neglects the duties of a commissioner; is unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office; commits gross misconduct; or is convicted of a felony.”

The commissioner “shall be provided with a written statement of the reason for removal and an opportunity to be heard” before removal, the law says. It does not appear to speak directly to the suspension of a commissioner.

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