935 CMR 501.500 - Hearings and Appeals of Commission Actions

(1) The Commission has the authority to administer the administrative hearing process under M.G.L. c. 94I, § 7 and M.G.L. c. 94G, § 4(a)(xxiv) and (g).
(2) A Licensee or Host Community shall be afforded a hearing on any adverse action taken pursuant to:
(a) 935 CMR 501.360;
(b) 935 CMR 501.370;
(c) 935 CMR 501.450; or
(d) Any other notice of the Commission that specifies that the Licensee, Registrant, or Host Community has a right to challenge the findings of fact and conclusions of law set forth in the Commission's notice using the process set forth in 935 CMR 501.500.
(3) Notice(s).
(a) Notice of Violation(s) includes a notice issued in accordance with 935 CMR 501.360 or 935 CMR 501.370.
(b) Notice of Other Action(s). The Commission or a Commission Delegee shall send written notice of the action including, but not limited to, a denial of a renewal License, taken against a Licensee, Registrant, or Host Community and the basis(es) for that action, which shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:
1. The Commission's statutory and regulatory authority, including its jurisdiction over the subject matter and its authority to take action with regards to the License or registration, or HCA;
2. The factual basis(es) for that action;
3. The alleged violation(s) of law;
4. The current restriction(s) on the Licensee's or Registrant's operations or the sale or use of Marijuana, Marijuana Products, or MIPs, if any;
5. The potential for further disciplinary action(s), sanction(s) or fine(s); and
6. The Licensee, Registrant, or Host Community's right to a hearing, if any.
(c) The Commission or a Commission Delegee may modify, amend or rescind a notice issued under 935 CMR 500.500(3)(c).
(4) Hearing Request. The hearing request shall be submitted in a form and a manner determined by the Commission or a Commission Delegee including, but not limited to, the request shall be made no later than 30 days after the effective date of the notice. A request for a hearing is filed on the date the request is received by the Commission.
(a) A timely request for a hearing shall specifically identify each issue and fact in dispute and state the position of the Licensee, Registrant, or Host Community, the pertinent facts to be adduced at the hearing, and the reasons supporting that position.
(b) The failure to timely file a request for a hearing or to state the basis of the hearing request will result in dismissal of the challenge to the findings set forth in the notice of violation(s) or action(s).
(c) If a timely request for a hearing is made, the Licensee Registrant, or Host Community may also seek to stay any action until there has been a final agency action pursuant to 935 CMR 501.500(7) or 935 CMR 501.500(12); provided however, that if the Commission issues an order or notice on the basis of information that ongoing operations pose an immediate or serious threat to the public health, safety, or welfare, and that operations without restrictions during the pendency of the administrative appeal could reasonably be expected to endanger the health, safety, or welfare of the public, there will be no stay.
(d) Nothing in 935 CMR 501.500 shall preclude the Commission or a Commission Delegee from issuing a stay.
(5) Hearing Officer. The Commission shall designate a Hearing Officer or delegate this designation to the Executive Director.
(6) Hearing Officer's Authority to Take Action in the Event of Waiver, Default or Summary Decision.
(a) Waiver. If a Licensee, Registrant, or Host Community fails to request a hearing in a timely manner or otherwise waives their right to a hearing, the Hearing Officer may assume the truth of the allegations set forth in the notice and recommend to the Commission disciplinary action(s), sanction(s) or fine(s) or an informal disposition of the matter.
(b) Default. If a Licensee, Registrant, or Host Community defaults, the Hearing Officer or a Commission Delegee may assume the truth of the allegations set forth in the notice and recommend to the Commission appropriate disciplinary action(s), sanction(s) or fine(s) or an informal disposition of the matter.
(c) Summary Decision. If there is no genuine issue of fact to be determined by a hearing, the Hearing Officer may assume the truth of the allegations set forth in the notice and recommend to the Commission disciplinary action(s), sanction(s) or fine(s) or an informal disposition of the matter.
(d) For actions without a hearing under 935 CMR 501.500, the Hearing Officer may conduct an evidentiary hearing on the appropriateness of disciplinary action(s), sanction(s) or fine(s).
(7) Commission's Authority to Review, Approve or Reject Informal Dispositions. At any time, the Commission or a Commission Delegee may, in its discretion, review, approve or reject an informal disposition, but only on a showing that the alleged violations have been corrected, and a submission of a written waiver of its right to judicial review.
(8) Hearing Notice. If a hearing is requested in a timely manner under 935 CMR 501.500(4), the Hearing Officer shall provide notice and a hearing within a reasonable time after that request, or as soon as is practicable, or at a time mutually agreed by the parties.
(a) The hearing notice should comply with M.G.L. c. 30A, § 11(1).
(b) Prior to the commencement of a proceeding, a Hearing Officer may conduct conference(s) and refer or require the parties to participate in settlement negotiations. If the parties reach a settlement, the Hearing Officer shall suspend the proceedings pending Commission consideration of the matter under 935 CMR 501.500(7).
(9) Conduct of the Hearing.
(a) To the extent that a Hearing Officer conducts a proceeding, it shall be conducted pursuant to M.G.L. c. 30A and the Standard Adjudicatory Rules of Practice and Procedure, which includes 801 CMR 1.01: Formal Rules, 801 CMR 1.02: Informal/Fair Hearing Rules, and/or 801 CMR 1.03: Miscellaneous Provisions Applicable to All Adjudicatory Proceedings.
(b) In the case of an Order to Show Cause, why a License or Registration should not be suspended or revoked, the hearing shall be conducted pursuant to M.G.L. c. 30A, §§ 10, 11 and 12.
(c) If after the commencement of the hearing, the parties reach a settlement, the Hearing Officer shall suspend the proceedings pending Commission consideration of the matter under 935 CMR 501.500(7).
(10) Reopening of Hearings. At any time before the Commission's Final Decision is issued, on the motion of any party or on their own initiative, the Commission by a majority vote or the Hearing Officer may on good cause shown reopen the hearing for the purpose of receiving new evidence.
(11) Hearing Officer's Recommended Decision.
(a) Burden of Proof.
1. For a notice of violation(s), the Commission or a Commission Delegee bears the burden of proving the violation(s) of law.
2. For a notice of action(s) including, but not limited to, the denial of a renewal License, the Licensee bears the burden of proving the qualifications for licensure.
(b) The Hearing Officer will make a recommended decision to the Commission.
1. The recommended decision may affirm, modify, or overturn the actions proposed in the Commission's notice of violation(s) or action(s).
2. The recommended decision shall be in writing to the Commission for its consideration, which shall include, but not be limited to, a statement of reasons, including determination of each issue of fact or law necessary to the decision.
3. The Hearing Officer may recommend disciplinary action(s), sanction(s) or fine(s), or an informal disposition of the matter and provide reasons for the recommendation, including whether the recommendation is consistent with the notice of violation(s) or action(s) and the Commission's prior disciplinary action(s), sanction(s) or fine(s).
4. The Hearing Officer shall electronically mail a copy of the recommended decision to each party or their attorney(s) of record and on request, mail a copy of the recommended decision to each party or their attorney(s) of record.
(c) Within 21 calendar days of the issuance of the recommended decision, the parties may submit to the Commission written objections and arguments regarding the Hearing Officer's recommended decision.
(12) Final Decision.
(a) The Commission may affirm, adopt, modify, amend, or reverse the recommended decision of the Hearing Officer or remand the matter for further consideration.
(b) The Commission's decision shall be considered the Final Decision, unless its authority to render a Final Decision is delegated.
1. The Final Decision shall be in writing. The drafting of the decision may be delegated to the General Counsel so long as the Commission votes on the substance of the Final Decision.
2. The Final Decision may incorporate by reference the Hearing Officer's recommended decision in whole or in part. The Commission shall consider the parties' written objections and arguments regarding the Hearing Officer's recommended decision under 935 CMR 501.500(11)(c), but is not required to respond to these submissions.
3. The Final Decision shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
a. A statement of reasons, including determination of each issue of fact or law necessary to the decision; and
b. Any disciplinary action(s), sanction(s) or fine(s), or an informal disposition of the matter.
(c) The vote on the Final Decision shall be supported and signed by at least three Commissioners. As part of its vote, the Commission may delegate to the General Counsel action(s) needed to finalize the decision including, but not limited to, the stamping of Commissioners' signatures.
(d) The Commission's Final Decision is a final agency action reviewable pursuant to M.G.L. c. 30A, § 14.
(e) The Commission or a Commission Delegee shall electronically mail a copy of the recommended decision to each Licensee, Registrant, or Host Community or their attorney(s) of record and on request, mail a copy of the recommended decision to each Licensee, Registrant, or Host Community or their attorney(s) of record.
(13) Appeals. Any Person aggrieved by a Final Decision may appeal that decision to the Superior Court in accordance with M.G.L. c. 30A, § 14. The filing of an appeal shall not operate as a stay of enforcement of the Commission's decision, but the Commission may in its discretion stay enforcement.

Notes

935 CMR 501.500
Adopted by Mass Register Issue 1380, eff. 12/23/2018. Amended by Mass Register Issue 1403, eff. 11/1/2019. Amended by Mass Register Issue 1434, eff. 1/8/2021. Amended by Mass Register Issue 1441, eff. 1/8/2021. Amended by Mass Register Issue 1507, eff. 10/27/2023.

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