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Healey appoints new commissioner to Mass. marijuana agency

Ava Callender Concepcion, a Dorchester attorney, will fill final vacant seat on Cannabis Control Commission

Ava Callender Concepcion has been appointed to the state Cannabis Control Commission by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
Ava Callender Concepcion has been appointed to the state Cannabis Control Commission by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.Handout

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced Tuesday that her office has appointed Ava Callender Concepcion of Dorchester to the state Cannabis Control Commission, capping a series of recent changes to the makeup of the five-member marijuana agency.

Concepcion is an attorney who previously worked for state Senator William Brownsberger and, until September, served as the director of government affairs and external partnerships for Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins. She will fill the commission’s public safety seat, which was vacated by former commissioner Britte McBride last month.

“Ava brings a strong background in public safety and experience working with a range of stakeholders including law enforcement, advocacy organizations, and constituents on important policy matters,” Healey said in a statement. “As a lifelong resident of Boston, Ava has dedicated her career to social justice and her perspective will be extremely valuable to the commission in promoting safety, equity, and opportunity.”

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Concepcion is expected to make her debut as a marijuana regulator at a public commission meeting scheduled for Thursday — as will fellow new commissioners Bruce Stebbins and Nurys Camargo, who were appointed last month by Healey, Governor Charlie Baker, and state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg.

Concepcion, who is Black, becomes the third woman of color after Camargo and former member Shaleen Title to serve on the independent commission, which is charged by state law with creating an equitable industry following decades of cannabis arrests that fell disproportionately on Black and brown people. In a statement, she pledged to continue those efforts.

“I am honored and humbled by this appointment and want to thank Attorney General Healey for the opportunity,” Concepcion said. “I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners to implement regulations that foster thoughtfulness, transparency, and equity.”

In addition to her work for Rollins’ office and in the State House, where in 2018 she helped develop a wide-ranging criminal justice reform bill, Concepcion has also worked as a victim witness advocate in Boston Municipal Court and for Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development. She graduated from Boston Latin Academy and holds a degree from New England Law.

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Dan Adams can be reached at daniel.adams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Adams86.