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Cannabis Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan to resign from state marijuana board

Flanagan’s early departure adds to CCC turnover

Jennifer Flanagan speaks during a meeting of the commission in Worcester in February 2020.
Jennifer Flanagan speaks during a meeting of the commission in Worcester in February 2020.Steven Senne/Associated Press

Cannabis Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan, who served in the Massachusetts Legislature for almost 15 years before her appointment, will resign from the regulatory role at the end of the month, four months before her term is due to end.

When Flanagan leaves the CCC on April 30, she will be the fourth original member of the five-person commission to have left the agency in the last year. Her resignation will create a vacancy that Governor Charlie Baker will have to fill with someone who has a background in public health, mental health, substance use, or toxicology.

“My motivation for accepting his appointment, and my primary goal throughout my term, has been to ensure the public health of Massachusetts residents remained a priority as the Commonwealth regulated legal cannabis,” Flanagan said Tuesday. “I believe my contributions have kept that focus front and center as the Commission has drafted and updated its regulations over the past three and a half years.”

The CCC’s announcement of Flanagan’s departure did not say what she intends to do in the future, but said it marks the “ending a 25-year career of public service.”

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On the CCC, the Leominster Democrat, who served four years in the House and nearly a decade in the Senate, was among the more conservative regulators and regularly voiced her concern that the young agency was moving too quickly to implement things like home delivery of marijuana. She also kept a close eye on the positive impact plans and diversity plans required to be submitted by license applicants.

Flanagan regularly pressed for additional information, clarity, and detail to be included in the plans and made that a condition of licensure for numerous applicants.

“The Commonwealth is a healthier, safer, and more empathetic place because of Commissioner Flanagan’s career in public service,” CCC Executive Director Shawn Collins said. “First as an effective legislative aide and lawmaker, and most recently as a regulator, Commissioner Flanagan worked tirelessly on behalf of her constituents and the people most in need of protection and advocacy.”

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The governor said his office is reviewing applicants to fill Flanagan’s CCC seat and expects to make an announcement soon. After Flanagan departs, only Chairman Steven Hoffman will remain from the CCC as originally appointed in September 2017.