A Trulieve Cannabis marijuana facility in Holyoke, Massachusetts, was already under investigation by state regulators when an employee died in January after allegedly inhaling dust on the job.
According to The Boston Globe, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) began investigating the facility in the fall of 2021 because of worker complaints.
But CCC Chair Shannon O’Brien and Commissioner Bruce Stebbins told the Globe last week they hadn’t learned of the death of 27-year-old Lorna McMurrey until a September report by the Young Jurks podcast.
O’Brien also told the newspaper that the investigation is still underway but did not explain why the probe has taken so long or when it will be complete.
A CCC spokesperson told the Globe that Trulieve, a Florida-based multistate operator, reported the incident to the agency on Jan. 10, several days after McMurrey’s death.
The spokesperson told the newspaper the CCC’s staff did not brief the five commissioners, saying it’s a “customary” approach intended to keep investigations independent until the commissioners vote on whether to accept a probe’s conclusions and issue any sanctions.
The employee collapsed on the job Jan. 7 after saying she couldn’t breathe while grinding and filling pre-rolls, according to an Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) inspection report.
The OSHA report said McMurrey died as a result of “occupational asthma due to exposure to ground cannabis.”
WeedWeek reported last week that the report no longer cites a cause of death.
An OSHA spokesperson told the publication the case remains open but declined to comment on the change.
OSHA issued a $35,219 fine, which Trulieve is disputing.
“PPE (personal protection equipment) was available onsite,” Trulieve said in an Oct. 3 statement to MJBizDaily.
“They (OSHA) tested the air quality throughout the facility and the samples were all well below acceptable ranges.”
McMurrey’s stepfather, Dave Bruneau, told the Globe that she had asked him to “bring her respirators from his job as a mechanic” because “the air (at her job) was full of dust.”
A former supervisor at the facility told the Globe that paper masks were provided to employees. He also said employees were afraid to speak up about their safety concerns.
Neither Trulieve nor the CCC would comment to the Globe because the investigation is still open.
Hampden County District Attorney told the newspaper that the incident is not being criminally investigated.