Earlier this year, a Massachusetts woman tragically passed away from work-related asthma complications at Trulieve Inc.’s cannabis processing factory. Now, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has put the entire industry on notice, hoping to encourage better health and safety practices for employees.
Lorna McMurray, aged 27, tragically passed away on January 7th of this year, just three days after collapsing on the job. Federal agents, as well as family members, alleged that a lack of ventilation exacerbated McMurray’s asthma, preventing her from breathing properly and, later, causing her untimely passing.
Despite occurring nearly a year ago, the circumstances surrounding her death were not made public until September, and Trulieve, the company she worked for, neglected to release a statement until October. Unsurprisingly, the company only released their statement after her death was exposed by the political podcast The Young Jurks. The episode featured an interview with ex-Trulieve employee Danny Carson, McMurray’s former supervisor. He described the work environment as toxic and dangerous, exposing Trulieve for their dirty practices and neglect in the face of this tragedy. Carson alleges that there was no PPE provided to employees – in fact, all the protective equipment was intended to preserve the product, not the employees. N-95 masks, hair nets, and gloves are not personal protective equipment, says Danny, and these were the only things provided to employees.
Following the podcast episode, numerous news outlets picked up the story, forcing Trulieve to release a lengthy statement. The statement, totaling about three pages in length, denied any responsibility for McMurray’s death and even blamed The Young Jurks for potentially forcing her loved ones to relive their grief.
In a statement to The High Times, Trulieve continued by refusing to provide more details surrounding McMurray’s death. They also claimed that the OSHA investigation cleared them of any responsibility, stating “PPE was available onsite.” Trulieve states that the OSHA investigation concluded the air quality was acceptable and that they were only issued citations related to communications standards, which they are contesting. They finished their statement with a heavy dose of irony 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 OSHA Investigation
According to Trulieve’s statement, the OSHA investigation following McMurray’s death resulted in $35,000 in fines for communication infractions. They stated that OSHA found adequate PPE at their facility as well. OSHA, however, disagrees.
The report by OSHA, though unfinalized, determined the cause of death was due to occupational hazards. In June of this year, they identified three violations that they categorized as “serious,” but since the report is still in the works, there could be more fines coming soon. We certainly hope so, because $35,000 is chump change for this multi-billion dollar company, and McMurray, her family, and the Trulieve employees deserve better.
Since the cannabis industry is still so unregulated, workplace safety practices have yet to be established. This leaves openings for shady businesses to exploit their workers, and if Trulieve is any indication of corporate cannabis behavior, it’s highly likely that many more companies are neglecting employee safety too.
Trulieve Inc. is notoriously shady. Since its inception, the company has reeked of corruption, and its entire history is riddled with scandals, deception, and bad politics. The initial license approval for Trulieve screams fraud, involving numerous undisclosed conflicts of interest. For example, JT Burnette, CEO Kim Rivers‘ husband, has bragged about his political connections helping Trulieve become one of the first to receive a vertically-integrated medical marijuana license in the state of Florida.
Burnette discussed working with then-state Rep. Halsey Beshears in 2014 to make “little tweaks” to the MMJ licensing criteria that would prevent certain competitors from qualifying. His efforts could be the reason that Trulieve controls over half of Florida’s smokeable marijuana, and their initial success is the reason they’re currently able to operate in 11 other states. This was all brought to light during the 2021 criminal trial of JT Burnette, where he was charged with racketeering, extortion, fraud, and making false statements and is facing up to 20 years in prison. Burnette was also enmeshed in the sex-trafficking scandal of disgraced politician Matt Gaetz.
Trulieve is extremely suspicious, and their dominance over the medical cannabis markets in multiple states is just a testament to how corrupt our political system truly is.
Lorna McMurray will not be forgotten. Her tragic passing should serve as a warning to all cannabis corporations and employees: worker safety should NEVER be secondary to profits. Corporate cannabis has unfortunately become infected with the disease of American market capitalism, and McMurray is just one of the many victims of the unbridled industry. Legal cannabis should provide employee protection, and OSHA needs to seriously increase the fine on Trulieve. This company is ridiculously suspect and should be shut down, not only for killing their employee but for corruption, establishing a monopoly, and working with Epstein-level perverts.
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