Trulieve employee died from ‘hazards of ground cannabis dust,’ OSHA report says

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A worker at multistate operator Trulieve Cannabis’ cultivation facility in Holyoke, Massachusetts, died in January because of “the hazards of ground cannabis dust,” according to an Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) inspection report.

The employee, who is not identified in the report, complained that “she couldn’t breathe” while fulfilling her duties grinding cannabis flower and packaging it in pre-rolls at 11 p.m. ET on Jan. 7, 2022.

Trulieve confirmed in a statement to MJBizDaily that the employee was Lorna McMurrey.

The OSHA’s “Inspection Detail” – it’s an open case, so the report is subject to change – contains few details but noted that the nonunion employee said she complained of not being able to breathe because of “marijuana kief (dust).”

Kief refers to the sticky powder containing loose trichomes that falls off cannabis flower.

Trulieve declined to elaborate on what happened on the day of McMurrey’s death.

“Out of respect for the family’s privacy, we are not going to provide any details as to the specifics of that day,” the company said.

“However, OSHA conducted a thorough investigation of the Holyoke facility,” Trulieve’s statement continued.

“PPE (personal protection equipment) was available onsite. They (OSHA) tested the air quality throughout the facility and the samples were all well below acceptable ranges.

“OSHA did issue citations related to communication standards and Trulieve has contested those findings.”

Trulieve concluded its statement by saying, “We cherish and value all of the 9,000 employees who make Trulieve a family and the safety of our team members is paramount to our core values.”

The Young Jurks podcast was the first to report the incident, according to Massachusetts website The Shoestring.

According to OSHA’s report on the Holyoke incident, Trulieve contested three “serious” violations issued on June 30. OSHA levied fines totaling $35,219.

The Tallahassee company previously has been penalized for OSHA violations, The Shoestring reported, including:

  • In March, the agency accused Trulieve’s Reading, Pennsylvania, location of violating a regulation requiring employers to report a worker’s “in-patient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye.” There was an informal settlement, according to The Shoestring, and the case is now closed.
  • In 2019, the agency cited Trulieve after finding that its cultivation facility in Quincy, Florida, violated respiratory-protection and hazard-communication regulations.

Trulieve is not the only cannabis company to have been accused of such “hazard” violations:

  • In 2021, a cultivation facility in Monson, Massachusetts, operated by Maryland-based multistate operator Holistic Industries, experienced a widespread mold contamination that created respiratory hazards for workers, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton.
  • In 2016 and 2017, the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety investigated the potential occupational and respiratory hazards of an unidentified Minnesota cannabis cultivation facility.

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