Business

Trulieve factory worker died of kief inhalation: OSHA

By Alex Halperin
Oct 2, 2022
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Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers, Courtesy Trulieve

[Update 10/13/22]: OSHA no longer lists a cause of death.

Read WeedWeek’s follow up story here.

Lorna McMurrey, a 27-year-old worker at MSO Trulieve‘s factory in Holyoke, Mass., died from inhaling cannabis dust during a shift early this year. 

A report from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) summarized: “At 11:00 p.m. on January 7, 2022, an employee was grinding cannabis flowers, and packaging ground cannabis in pre-rolls. The employee could not breathe and was killed, due to the hazards of ground cannabis dust.”

According to her obituary, McMurrey died at a hospital in central Massachusetts, apparently after being transported from the Trulieve facility.

According to one Reddit poster, McMurrey was the first ever cannabis death.”

Lorna McMurrey
Lorna McMurrey died of kief inhalation on January 7

Employers must report worker fatalities to OSHA within eight hours.

WeedWeek was not able to find any additional acknowledgements from Trulieve about McMurrey or her death in the 10 months since. An outside spokesperson for Trulieve said the company is preparing a statement but it wasn’t ready at time of publication. 

News of McMurrey’s death circulated on social media this week after left-wing Massachusetts podcast The Young Jurks interviewed a man who identified himself as McMurrey’s stepfather, Dave.

“We don’t know what happened in this situation but definitely there are questions, concerns, uncertainty,” Young Jurks host Mike Crawford said, noting that McMurrey had asthma and other medical issues. “We’re not saying Trulieve did anything wrong.”

Dave said Lorna, who was not in a union, had asked him to bring her respirators from his job as a diesel mechanic at a bus company. “I know they weren’t giving her masks,” he said. “I had to sneak them out of my shop to bring them to her.”

“All I know is she passed out at work, and she lost oxygen,” Dave said. “She had a brain injury and she was dead. She went to work and she didn’t come home.” 

“Supposedly there’s a very dusty environment in these rooms…when they’re processing the stuff.” Dave said.   

“Her mother went to OSHA and she’s trying to file a wrongful death suit against Trulieve,” he added. “That’s all I know right now.”  

“My kid’s in a box…What the hell?” Dave said. “I would hope that something came out of this the very next day.” 

  • The podcast episode also included comments from individuals Crawford identified as current and former Trulieve employees criticizing workplace safety practices at company facilities in Massachusetts and Florida.  
  • The statement’s include one attributed to Danny, who said he was McMurrey’s supervisor until he quit a month before she died. 

According to the report, Trulieve is contesting the $35,219 in fines levied by OSHA in response to McMurrey’s death.

OSHA didn’t respond to requests for comment over the weekend. Massachusetts’ regulator, the Cannabis Control Commission, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday. 

A 2020 report led by a University of Washington professor found that cannabis workers may be at increased risk of of respiratory problems.  

Florida-based Trulieve is among the largest U.S. cannabis companies. In Q2 it reported a net loss of $24M on $320M in revenue. 

Read WeedWeek’s follow up story here.

(This article will be updated with any additional comments.)