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Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission in Turmoil as Managers Suspended

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According to a report by WBUR, Boston’s NPR office, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission is in a state of turmoil following the suspension of two top managers, Cedric Sinclair and Justin Shrader, earlier this month. This upheaval adds to the agency’s challenges, which include the suspension of its chair, Shannon O’Brien. Shrader has since resigned, and his position is now advertised on the commission’s job board, the report states.

The reasons behind the suspensions remain undisclosed, with the commission declining to comment beyond saying they do not discuss internal personnel matters. Neither Sinclair nor Shrader were willing to discuss the situation with reporters.

This comes in the wake of former executive director Shawn Collins stepping down and O’Brien’s legal battle against a review of her suspension, related to allegations of making racist comments and mishandling staff interactions. Specifically, an internal investigation found O’Brien had used the word “yellow” in reference to an Asian person, among other problematic interactions. In a court filing, O’Brien says her words were taken out of context and that she is being denied due process.

These events highlight significant management issues within the commission, responsible for overseeing the state’s $5 billion cannabis industry.

Lawmakers, including State Sen. Michael Moore, are calling for an oversight hearing to address these concerns, pointing to a disconnect between the commission’s staff and board and the need for organizational reform. The situation is further complicated by key vacancies in the commission and a reported delay in communicating critical incidents to the board.

In a statement cited by WBUR, Moore said, “the management staff overseeing the commission, the agency, is in disarray […] We need an oversight hearing. We need to find out what’s going on, what’s taken place.”


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