Suspended Marijuana Regulator in Massachusetts Sues State

In the filing, O'Brien called the suspension illegal.

Former Massachusetts cannabis czar Shannon O’Brien filed a lawsuit Thursday against State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, alleging that her recent suspension from her job as head of the state Cannabis Control Commission was illegal.

According to the suit, Goldberg “willfully side-stepped both Massachusetts law and any process at all” when she suspended O’Brien earlier this month, GBH News reported.

Goldberg separately said on Thursday that “several serious allegations” had been made about O’Brien’s conduct as head of the CCC, and that an outside law firm had been engaged to investigate. What exactly the allegations entail remains murky.

“The law firm undertook an investigation and has returned with a report. According to the CCC’s employee handbook, suspension with pay is the only allowable remedy at this point, as the findings are being reviewed and action is considered,” Goldberg said in the first explanation offered since O’Brien was suspended. Goldberg previously declined to give reasons for O’Brien’s punishment, calling it a “personnel matter.”

O’Brien’s lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, asks that she be reinstated to her position as chairwoman of the CCC, a position to which she was appointed just last August for a five-year term.

In her lawsuit, O’Brien claims she’s been targeted by false allegations that stem from “entrenched bureaucracy and infighting” at the CCC, The Boston Globe reported.

“Chair O’Brien, like her predecessor, has been subjected to the making of false and defamatory allegations against her, all made in an effort to force her removal,” the lawsuit states, without detailing the allegations.

O’Brien also previously told The Globe she had not been given any reason for her suspension by Goldberg, but that the CCC was suffering from a “toxic internal environment.”

John Schroyer

John Schroyer has been a reporter since 2006, initially with a focus on politics, and covered the 2012 Colorado campaign to legalize marijuana. He has written about the cannabis industry specifically since 2014, after being on hand for the first-ever legal cannabis sales on New Year’s Day that year in Denver. John has covered subsequent marijuana market launches in California and Illinois, has written about every aspect of the marijuana trade, and was part of the team that built the cannabis industry’s first-ever trade show, MJBizCon. He joined Green Market Report in 2022.

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