20 October 2022 |

Trulieve allegedly offered Lorna McMurrey a paid day off on the day she died, source claims

By Kaitlin Domangue

Trulieve employee Lorna McMurrey passed away at a Massachusetts facility in January. Earlier this month, news of her death resurfaced, making headlines. 

According to the OSHA report, Lorna passed away after inhaling kief, and she couldn’t breathe. 

The company has been pretty tight-lipped about the incident. A full statement was sent to The Green Paper on October 3rd about Lorna’s passing, along with other media outlets after inquiry. It reads: 

“In January of this year, Trulieve experienced the loss of one of our team members, Lorna McMurrey, who was working in our Holyoke, Massachusetts facility. Our hearts go out to Ms. McMurrey’s family, friends, and colleagues as the circumstances around her passing have recently resurfaced, resulting in their having to re-experience their loss. Out of respect for the family’s privacy, we are not going to provide any details as to the specifics of that day. However, OSHA conducted a thorough investigation of the Holyoke facility. PPE was available onsite. They 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. 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.”

Since this statement was released, additional details about Lorna’s death have been uncovered. For one, the facility was being actively investigated by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission for previous complaints. 

Alex Halperin, Editor, and Publisher at WeedWeek, posted on LinkedIn:

“A Trulieve employee who was at the Holyoke factory the night Lorna McMurrey died, told WeedWeek that when the ambulance arrived, the emergency team “faced a lot of difficulty actually getting into the building due to contamination practices. They were delayed for a period of time due to someone having to make the decision to let them in without Tyvek [clean room] gear.”

Around this time, I also spoke with a verified source close to the situation who opted to remain anonymous.

They said Lorna was encouraged to leave by her manager on that day with full pay, and she opted to stay. This source claims that Union organizers are pushing these headlines to paint Trulieve and all MSOs negatively. 

“The salacious headlines of “cannabis killed…” are really a scare tactic that is working extremely well on behalf of the Unions,” they said. “Additionally, there have been stories published the past 24 hours suggesting that the OSHA fines were for/because of this individual’s death, which is not accurate. The OSHA fines were for communications issues and signage. OSHA tested the air quality in the facility and found it to be well within acceptable levels. The real shame here is that there are folks essentially using this woman’s passing for political gain, which is terrible.”

This source also verified Lorna had asthma, was a smoker, and attributed her death to her pre-existing condition: not cannabis dust. 

The claims from the source I spoke to certainly shed light on what the situation could have looked like, but there’s ultimately no way to verify everything because the company and the family are choosing not to speak further on it. 

Regardless of Union efforts to bolster these negative headlines, Trulieve’s history regarding workplace safety and quality control does not position them well for this crisis.

A muddy story

But, preexisting conditions and additional circumstances like opting to stay at work could have possibly played a significant role in Lorna’s death, too. 

It’s impossible to understand exactly what happened without more information, but I hope this at least encourages operators to mandate PPE in post-harvest processing rooms where it gets dusty and potentially hazardous.