Worker at Massachusetts Cannabis Producer Dies from Inhaling Cannabis Dust

OSHA has levied a fine of more than $35,000 against Florida-based Trulieve in relation to the death of an employee at the company’s cannabis cultivation and processing facility in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
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An employee at a Massachusetts cannabis production facility died earlier this year from inhaling cannabis dust while working, according to a preliminary inspection report from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). According to the report, the employee died while producing pre-rolled joints at a marijuana production site in Holyoke, Massachusetts operated by Trulieve, a Florida-based vertically integrated cannabis company with operations in 11 states.

In its report, which is subject to amendment by the agency, OSHA investigators wrote that an employee was grinding cannabis flower to be packaged into pre-rolls on January 7 when she “said she couldn’t breathe.” Although the report provides few details on the incident, the OSHA investigation determined that the unidentified “employee could not breathe and was killed, due to the hazards of ground cannabis dust.” The report also mentioned that the inhaled dust contained marijuana kief, which are detached cannabis trichomes, the glands that produce THC and other active compounds found in marijuana.

In June, OSHA levied fines totaling more than $35,000 against Trulieve in connection with the employee’s death. The three violations cited by OSHA are categorized as “serious,” with the agency alleging that Trulieve violated federal regulations requiring that companies maintain a written hazard communication plan, keep safety data sheets on hazardous chemicals and provide information and training on those chemicals.

Holyoke’s civic leaders have welcomed Massachusetts’ regulated cannabis industry to set up shop in the city’s many vacant industrial buildings, issuing 72 licenses to cultivate, manufacture, and retail cannabis products to businesses operating in the jurisdiction, according to data from the state Cannabis Control Commission. Local independent news site The Shoestring reports that indoor cannabis cultivators are particularly attracted to the city north of Springfield in western Massachusetts, which has relatively low electricity rates compared to other areas. Holyoke is one of the nation’s first planned industrial cities, allowing it to provide affordable electrical power produced via a dam and municipal canal system.

Co-Worker Alleges Mismanagement at Trulieve Facility in Massachusetts

The Trulieve employee’s death was first reported last week by the podcast The Young Jurks. Although the deceased worker was not identified in the OSHA investigation report, The Young Jurks identified the employee as 27-year-old Lorna L. McMurrey of West Springfield, Massachusetts. In a post on YouTube, The Young Jurks shared a statement from an unidentified former co-worker who alleged mismanagement at the Trulieve facility.

“Lorna McMurrey tragically passed away while processing keif in Trulieve’s Holyoke, MA manufacturing facility,” the former employee said. “I had quit about a month prior to her passing due to the horrific management and corruption that I witnessed daily as a supervisor within the facility. I wish that I had been there to save her. Please look out for your people. Please educate yourselves.”

When asked about the death at the Trulieve cannabis cultivation facility, Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia said on Sunday that it was the first he had heard about the incident. He added that he did not have any information and could not offer a comment on the situation.

“This is news to me and I’m very shocked to hear this,” he wrote in a text message sent to a reporter for The Shoestring.

Drew Weisse is an organizer at United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1459, a labor union that represents workers at a Holyoke cannabis production facility operated by Green Thumb Industries. He told local media that workers in the cannabis industry face a variety of workplace hazards.

“You’re doing farm work in a factory, so you have the health hazards associated with both farm and factory settings,” said Weisse.

Trulieve is licensed to grow up to 80,000 square feet of cannabis plants at its facility in Holyoke, which is located in a former Conklin Office Furniture factory building. The company also operates three cannabis retail stores in Massachusetts. Nationwide, Trulieve has operations in 11 states with legal cannabis, with leading market positions in Arizona, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

A publicist for Trulieve told High Times the company was drafting a statement on the incident but declined to provide further comment.

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20 comments
    1. That’s because it can’t. There has literally NEVER been a recorded case of death caused by cannabis by itself–there have been deaths but they’ve always been cannabis in combination with something else and it’s always the other thing that causes the death–not the cannabis. I have a hard time believing cannabis was the cause of death at all, from all the articles I’ve read about this incident, there has never been any mention of testing for any other cause of death–not even COVID-19 which is a virus known for causing difficulty breathing and premature death.

      1. To DrG- Her death wasn’t caused by “ cannabis alone”…. Read again. I’ve witnessed her come home covered in this “ Kief “….. all over her clothes, on her skin- her hair, her face. Kinda looks like pollen. They didn’t protect my daughter., and she wasn’t told what this could do to her.

  1. I work at a Trulieve in Florida and our building has had black mold for over a year now, and not a thing is being done about it. We have plenty of employees with autoimmune issues too so the employees are literally risking their health just to make a paycheck. Trulieve truly could care less about it’s employees!

  2. You can die from inhaling too much of any dust. The same thing would’ve happened if she were working around sawdust without proper PPE. Take safety rules seriously, people.

  3. THis is going to be the end of the corporate cannabis industry as we know it, hopefully it can go to small mom and pop teams that make quality that can openly trade and sell at store/farmers market. Let the sun grow cannabis with soil, allt his nonsense of stuffing with GMO to create higher numbers is having an.. ILL-effect.

  4. I have a hard time believing that cannabis alone was the cause of death. I’d like to know if the cannabis industry worker who died also had COVID-19 since COVID is known to impact breathing and it certainly causes death. There was no mention of COVID at all in this article, did they test for COVID pre- or post-mortem? Did they test any fatal drugs like fentanyl? How about possible mold or asbestos in the facility walls? There are many extraneous factors to consider in this case before jumping to conclusions about cannabis.

    1. And I have a hard time believing you understand the crux of the problem here. This is Lorna’s stepfather- she inhaled a *hitton of dust, stopped breathing, passed out onto the floor…. Lost oxygen to her brain ( causing a severe brain injury) -…… which then in turn caused her to die. I have a hard time believing you have any reading comprehension at all, never mind any common sense. While she was tied to I don’t know how many machines in the hospital ( because she was brain dead), just to keep her body alive, she was tested for everything under the sun. My daughter was fine – we both went to work that morning, but only one of us came home. Is there anything else you find “ hard to believe?”……….

      1. Sounds like you’d like sympathy points or a cookie. Your simply distressed and can’t see fact due to be related to her. THC and marijuana didn’t kill her. Improper safety guidelines and equipment did. Don’t virtue signal and try to mention her being tied up and brain dead to get your point across it’s lame…

  5. There’s too many morons replying to this article saying “I doubt it was just THC that killed her” because their little brains can’t comprehend that the article isn’t trying to imply an overdose & that she actually died from inhaling the small particles that were in the air from grinding down the substance to put into joints. It’s pretty amazing how dense some people can be so again, breathing in fine particles, weed or otherwise, is NOT good for you & can cause issues, including death.

    1. If that’s the case, why was she the only person who reportedly died? Wouldn’t her coworkers also have had some breathing issues or worse?

    2. No one thinks an overdose is being implied.What they’re doing is leaving the reader to think that marijuana causes the death(especially with that THC line) when it was actually improper safety/health guidelines. Had it been sawdust it would’ve been the same result. Does WOOD kill people?

  6. As we speak, thousands of employees in this industry right now are slowly becoming ill..

    We are supposed to protect the flower from us, not protect us from the flower..

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