She’s back: Shannon O’Brien rejoins Mass. government as top marijuana regulator

Cannabis advocates expressed skepticism about O’Brien, saying she seemed nominally qualified for the role but noting her appointment cements a lineup of “insider” commissioners with previous government experience.

Craig F. Walker
Shannon O'Brien, on the far right, spoke during a 2017 panel while former officials Martha Coakley, Jane Swift, Kerry Healey, and Evelyn Murphy listened. Craig F. Walker/Globe staff

Shannon O’Brien, the former Massachusetts treasurer and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, is returning to state government after a nearly 20-year absence — this time as chair of the Cannabis Control Commission.

Current state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, whose office is responsible for choosing the marijuana agency’s leader, announced the appointment Tuesday. O’Brien will take the reins of the commission from Sarah Kim, a top Goldberg deputy who temporarily held the seat after the resignation in April of inaugural chair Steve Hoffman. (Hoffman has since returned to the private sector, joining the board of a medical marijuana software startup.) Officials said she is set to be sworn in Thursday, which is also the fifth anniversary of the commission.


“I am honored to serve as Treasurer Goldberg’s appointed chair of the Cannabis Control Commission, and excited to return to state service in this important role,” O’Brien said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the other commissioners, agency staff, and stakeholders to ensure that this industry is well regulated while enhancing economic benefits for the citizens of the Commonwealth.”

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