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Former Head of Massachusetts Cannabis Regulator Accused of Making Racist Remarks Before Suspension

The former chair of Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) Shannon O’Brien, reportedly made ‘culturally insensitive’ race-related remarks before she was suspended in September.

As Business of Cannabis reported in early October, the former state treasurer and one-time governor nominee Ms O’Brien was suspended from the top position of the state’s cannabis regulator after a number of ‘serious allegations’ were made by her colleagues.

Following a full investigation into the allegations, state treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg, who selected Ms O’Brien to lead the CCC last summer, said she had now choice but to suspend her ‘with pay’, leading Ms O’Brien to launch a legal challenge against her ‘unlawful’ dismissal.

Despite the very public dismissal, the reasons behind her abrupt dismissal have remained unclear until now.

In a court hearing last week, allegations emerged from court filings made by Ms O’Brien to the Suffolk County Superior Court.

These ‘culturally insensitive’ remarks, which have now been made public, reportedly included referring to Asian people as ‘yellow’.

Ms O’Brien has denied the allegations, stating that she ‘deserves a legitimate opportunity and not a sham process, to defend my good name and reputation’.

She has now called for a delay to a scheduled private meeting to challenge her suspension, attacking the closed door process as unfair.

A representative of Ms O’Brien said the closed door process showed Ms Goldberg was afraid to hold a public hearing with witnesses and cross-examination ‘to show the lack of merit of this so-called process’.

They added that ‘any allegation of racial insensitivity is frivolous in the extreme.’.

A Massachusetts judge is now set to decide whether the meeting, scheduled for today, will go ahead as planned.

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