Marijuana MSO Trulieve shares more details about employee’s death

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Florida-based multistate marijuana operator Trulieve Cannabis on Thursday shared more details about the circumstances surrounding the January death of a 27-year-old female employee at the company’s facility in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

The statement, which was shared with MJBizDaily by Trulieve spokesperson Rob Kremer, aims to counter “incorrect information” the company said was contained in media reports about the death of Lorna McMurrey.

The story has received mainstream press coverage in Massachusetts as well as in the cannabis industry media.

Questions have swirled since news of the death was first reported by the Young Jurks podcast earlier this month about how the young employee died and whether it was related to air quality, lack of safety equipment – or whether it was related to McMurrey’s job at all.

According to Trulieve’s emailed statement to MJBizDaily:

  • Industrial air-handling systems, a certified industrial air-filtration system and air scrubbers are installed and operational in the processing areas and grinding room to keep the air clean.
  • Contrary to a statement from a former employee to The Boston Globe, employees are provided N95 masks, not paper masks.
  • McMurrey was wearing an N95 mask “for at least a portion of the day,” according to the company.

On the day of McMurrey’s death, the statement said:

  • She was working in the pre-roll area, not the flower grinding room. (That appears to run counter to an earlier report by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that said she had been grinding cannabis flower and “was killed, due to the hazards of ground cannabis dust.” A more recent OSHA report doesn’t list a cause of death.)
  • McMurrey told her supervisor she was unwell but continued to work despite being told she could take a sick day with pay.
  • After McMurrey showed signs of distress, the company called 911 and three employees who had been trained a month earlier administered CPR.
  • Emergency medical service arrived “quickly and took over management of the response,” giving McMurrey medical attention within “less than one minute.” That’s “contrary to reports stating that it took medics a long time to reach the patient once they arrived at the facility.”
  • The employee was transferred to a hospital, where she died three days later on Jan. 7.

Trulieve said it reported both the incident and the death to the OSHA and the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) within 24 hours.

The statement also said the OSHA tested air samples at the facility and they met regulatory standards.

Trulieve emphasized it was issued fines under the “hazard communication standard.”

The company is contesting the fines but said it is open to learning how to better communicate and train its employees.

“We believe we have demonstrated a safe and healthy work environment, but we will of course work with OSHA and the Massachusetts CCC to address their concerns,” the statement noted.

“We want our employees to know they are safe and protected and that we are open to good ideas about any improvements that are necessary.”

Kate Robertson can be reached at kate.robertson@mjbizdaily.com.