Grow, Gift, Repair

Two new commissioners tapped for Massachusetts marijuana agency

State officials said they have appointed two new members of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, adding fresh faces to the agency’s leadership for the first time since its creation in 2017.

Nurys Camargo, a regional AT&T executive who previously directed the youth violence prevention programs under the administration of former Governor Deval Patrick and founded a nonprofit to mentor Latinas, will assume the commission’s social justice seat for a five-year term beginning January 1.

The move means current Commissioner Shaleen Title, whose initial term expired in September and has been serving in holdover status, will not be reappointed.

Bruce Stebbins, a longtime Republican political operative who currently serves on the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, will also be appointed to a five-year term on the cannabis commission as of January 1. He will fill the seat that has been empty since May, when Kay Doyle left for a job with a pharmaceutical company that manufactures a cannabis-based seizure medication.

The new appointments to the independent commission were made jointly by the offices of Governor Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, and state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg.
“Our administration is grateful to the treasurer and attorney general for their partnership on these appointments… as we continue to work together to ensure the effective regulation and safety of the cannabis industry in Massachusetts,” Baker said in a statement. “We are proud to appoint two highly qualified and experienced individuals to the CCC, and look forward to their contributions to the commission. We also thank Commissioner Title for her service.”
One commission seat, focused on public safety and appointed solely by Healey, remains open. Britte McBride left that post last week, after having announced in August that she would resign following a round of regulatory changes that ultimately wrapped up in November. Officials in Healey’s office have yet to announce a replacement, but said they hoped to do so before the agency’s next public meeting in January.
Camargo and Stebbins said they were honored by the appointments.
“For the past decade I’ve committed my work to finding pathways for equity and empowerment for women and people of color within the Commonwealth,” Camargo said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing the inaugural commission’s work to establish a safe and equitable cannabis industry in Massachusetts.”
Camargo ran youth violence prevention initiatives under the state’s Executive Office of Public Safety and Security from 2011 to 2014, when she joined AT&T as director of external affairs for New England. She is also the founder of the Chica Project, a mentorship nonprofit for young Latinas, and previously served as the director of community relations for former Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley.
Stebbins, who is leaving the Gaming Commission this month, said in a statement that he hoped “to help fulfill the Commission’s mission of creating employment and entrepreneurial opportunities across the state through this new industry.”
Stebbins, an East Longmeadow native, got an early start in Republican politics, working as a student on an unsuccessful campaign for state office by Brian Lees, later a president of the state Senate. In 1989, at age 23, Stebbins was drafted into the political office of George H.W. Bush’s administration, before returning to Massachusetts in 1991 to work for then-Governor Bill Weld. Later that year, he ran unsuccessfully for state representative on a platform that was moderate overall but included supporting the death penalty for drug traffickers.
Stebbins next climbed the ranks at the state’s business development office, eventually becoming its director. In 1999, he became a regional executive at the National Association of Manufacturers, and in 2005 was elected to the Springfield City Council. He more recently served as that city’s top business development official.
The appointments come as the commission is pivoting more to the implementation of its rules and the ongoing management of a burgeoning recreational marijuana industry that recently surpassed $1 billion in total sales. The agency’s early focus had been on writing and refining regulations and developing processes for licensing, inspections, and complaints.
It also plans to introduce marijuana delivery licenses next year, under a plan meant to increase equity in the industry after decades of racially disproportionate arrests for cannabis.
Title has been instrumental in that push for equity, which is called for under the state’s marijuana law, fighting successfully to make the concept a cornerstone of the commission’s mission.
An attorney and longtime drug policy reform advocate, she was the only initial member of the commission who voted in favor of legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts, and sometimes ruffled feathers on Beacon Hill — for example, by publicly calling on the Legislature to crack down on municipal demands for payments from cannabis operators and to direct marijuana taxes to communities hit by the drug war, or criticizing Baker for his ban on vape sales last year.
Title said she was grateful for the chance “to help create an agency that is uniquely effective, accountable, and fair, and which will continue to serve as model for other states.”
“I’m proud of — and honestly, amazed by — all the work we did to contain corporate greed, increase access for medical cannabis patients, and begin to issue licenses equitably,” she said in a statement.
“Nurys Camargo is an excellent choice for commissioner,” Title added. “Her fresh perspective and her skill for developing partnerships is exactly what this next phase of the commission’s work calls for, and I’m confident she will fight every day to advance the same movement for racial and economic justice that fought to create this seat.”