Massachusetts pot boss apologizes as state’s weed sales hit all-time high

Massachusetts pot boss apologizes as state’s weed sales hit all-time high

Cannabis board boss Shannon O’Brien is apologizing for her recent outburst saying she was too blunt in saying the state’s legal weed rollout was in a “crisis.”

It came on the same day the commission announced the Bay State has hit a new one-month high in legal weed sales — $136 million in July.

The previous record was set in June when 150 marijuana retailers sold $132.9 million in gummies, pre-rolls, drinks and other assorted THC-infused products.

“I want to begin by apologizing to my fellow commissioners regarding the way I made an announcement before I left our July 28th meeting. I know I caught you off guard and I know that there was some concern about that,” she said Thursday.

“At the time,” she added, “I believed I was alerting you to an important eventuality that I only discovered the day before.”

The $181,722-a-year chair of the commission went on to say: “I was not graceful in doing it. I apologize for what I did.”

O’Brien explained she was motivated by a desire to comply with the state’s open meeting laws, which bar her from talking to fellow commissioners about state business privately, and what she felt was a statutory obligation as chair of the commission to inform her colleagues of information brought to her attention which might affect their work.

O’Brien, during the commission’s previous gathering, used the public forum to say she had learned of the impending departure of the agency’s long-serving executive director, Shawn Collins. O’Brien went on to say the commission was “in crisis right now.”

Commissioner Nurys Camargo responded to O’Brien’s previous comments with “shock” but welcomed her bringing attention to the matter Thursday. She nevertheless expressed her concern that the chair was sharing a privately held opinion as if it represented the position of the entire commission.

Camargo described the previous meeting as “disruptive and uncomfortable.”

“I did a lot of reflection from the last meeting, because I was confused,” Camargo said, before pointing out she could have asked to make a point of order under the parliamentary rules guiding the commission, “so that we can sort of pause and see where we’re at.”

Despite the apology, the rest of the nearly five-hour meeting was littered with disagreements based on former state treasurer O’Brien’s statements on the work the commission has done to date. O’Brien questioned the use of “working groups” by the commission, saying she was generally unaware of their efforts.

Commissioner Ava Callender Concepcion seemed aghast at the assertion commissioners were collaborating without the Chair’s knowledge, telling O’Brien the subjects had been raised and discussed in many public meetings.

Her comments showed, according to Concepcion, a “lack of consideration for the groundwork that was done” by previous commissioners.

“It showed a lack of consideration for all the work that went into not just the regulations, but the creation of Chapter 180, the passage of that law, and the work that went into drafting all of those policies and considerations that are now available to the public,” she said.

Following the group’s regular meeting some members of the commission held a press conference, when the Herald asked if they would characterize the commission as in crisis.

“I don’t agree,” Camargo said.

“For me I’m not sure I would agree to say there is a crisis,” Commissioner Bruce Stebbins said, before going on to say there is certainly concern among cannabis sellers at the moment, who are facing quickly dropping prices amid a very competitive market.

“There are a lot of pieces,” he said. “We have a lot of work on our plate.”

(When originally published this article incorrectly attributed a remark made by Commissioner Camargo to Commissioner Concepcion but has since been edited.)

Cannabis Control Commission Chair Shannon O’Brien apologized to fellow commissioners for saying the agency was in ‘crisis’ during their last meeting. (Courtesy / Massachusetts State Treasury) Courtesy / Massachusetts State Treasury