Massachusetts watchdog urges receivership for Cannabis Commission

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Massachusetts Inspector General Jeffrey Shapiro called on the state’s legislative leaders to appoint a receiver to manage the day-to-day operations of the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) before the end of the legislative session.

In a letter sent June 18 to state Senate President Karen Spilka, House Speaker Ron Mariano and others, Shapiro wrote: “The Cannabis Control Commission is a rudderless agency without a clear indication of who is responsible for running its day-to-day operations.”

“Today I am asking legislative leaders to take immediate action to appoint a receiver and, in short order, address the underlying issues in the enabling statute so that the agency can function properly, maintain its budgeted revenue stream, and provide clarity and certainty for its stakeholders.”

In recent months, the CCC has levied fines, expanded a secret shopper program and approved cannabis shipments from the state’s mainland to islands such as Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, which has no licensed growers.

But the agency has been without a permanent, full-time leader since late last year, when Shawn Collins, the previous leader, stepped down from the role.

The commission announced a nationwide search for a new executive director in May and set an application deadline for June 15.

In a limited review of the CCC’s structure, the Inspector General’s office concluded that the statute to establish the CCC was “unclear and self-contradictory and provides minimal guidance on the authority and responsibilities of the CCC’s commissioners and staff,” a news release from the Inspector General’s office stated.

“Some interpret the statute to mean the chair oversees the affairs of the public body, while the executive director oversees the operating affairs of the agency.”

The CCC spent more than $160,000 on mediation services intended to clarify and write a charter outlining its governing structure, but commissioners have not made public nor approved the charter, the release said.

“For two years, the Commission has spent considerable time and money with a consultant drafting a governance charter to clarify roles and responsibilities.

“They are no closer to resolving these issues as I write this, therefore, immediate action must be taken to prevent the further waste and uncertainty.”

According to Shapiro, the charter “will not have the force of law and could be subject to differing interpretation from incoming commissioners or executive directors.”