Most Mass Outlets Covered Trulieve’s Exit. Many Missed The Point.

To ignore the worker issues in play is to botch the story

In editing an outlet that covers all things cannabis all the time, it’s always interesting to see what other sites pick up when it comes to weed content.

In Massachusetts, over the past month, the big story that everyone jumped on was the Cannabis Control Commission doing away with its social consumption pilot program. It’s a complicated topic that we at Talking Joints Memo covered extensively leading up to that vote, but it was nevertheless eye-opening to see how much interest there is on the lounge, cafe, and concert front, even if some of the articles were lacking.

Last week, however, saw probably one of the most widely disseminated and aggregated cannabis stories to date in these parts—not just in the past few months, but in the 20-plus years that I have covered weed in Mass. I’m of course referring to how Trulieve, a multi-state operator with three dispensaries and a massive production facility here, is leaving the Bay State by the end of this month. Here’s how we wrote up the news:

In what may be the biggest news in Massachusetts cannabis since podcaster Mike Crawford of the Young Jurks broke the story last year that 27-year-old employee Lorna McMurrey died after going into cardiac arrest at the Trulieve cultivation in Holyoke, today the multistate operator announced plans to “wind down its operations in Massachusetts” by closing dispensaries in Framingham, Northampton, and Worcester by June 30 and ceasing all Mass operations by the end of 2023.

While I don’t expect every outlet to give specific credit to Crawford (who has contributed to Talking Joints Memo in the past) at the top of every article on this subject, they certainly ought to give his Young Jurks podcast some linkage. Not just because it is the ethical thing to do, but because anyone who wants to dig deeper than superficial rehashings might want to catch up on their excellent tapings and employee interviews which Crawford only ramped up since breaking last week’s headline ahead of anyone else.

Furthermore, the problem isn’t just that journalists are leaving Crawford’s name out of their coverage—it’s that they’re leaving out McMurrey’s. Whether they realize it or not, and whether they write it or not, labor is a big part of this story. With tragedy smack at the center of it. For more background, I highly recommend Dusty Christensen’s long read for the Shoestring and the Nation on the topic.

To ignore the labor angle and omit McMurrey is to basically regurgitate the Trulieve press release about exiting Mass. A polished turd to treasure, it claimed the company is continuing “Optimization Efforts with Closure of California Retail Location and Plan to Wind Down Massachusetts Operations.” Sure it is.

On the other hand, the Springfield Republican and its MassLive operation, which has done some outstanding canna coverage in the past, nonetheless offered the most bankrupt analysis yet, largely forgetting about workers beyond mentioning that 128 lost their jobs in this disaster. The title of their editorial: “Big-time cannabis player Trulieve hits a limit in Massachusetts.”

It’s not about being woke. It’s about being accurate. And if your audience includes businesses and cannabiz employers, you’re only doing them a disservice by pretending that Trulieve’s woes in Massachusetts weren’t tied to how they treated workers.