Close this search box.

Trulieve Fined $350k For Noncompliance Associated With McMurrey Death

“Although we cannot rewrite the past, I am hopeful … this … is contributing to a better and safer industry throughout the country.”

Last June, the multistate operator Trulieve announced plans to “wind down its operations in Massachusetts” by closing dispensaries in Framingham, Northampton, and Worcester that month and ceasing all Mass operations by the end of 2023.

“These difficult but necessary measures are part of ongoing efforts to bolster business resilience and our commitment to cash preservation as we continue to focus on our business strategy of going deep in our core markets and jettisoning non-contributive assets,” Trulieve Chief Executive Officer Kim Rivers said in a statement at the time.

The year before, podcaster Mike Crawford of the Young Jurks broke the story that 27-year-old Trulieve employee Lorna McMurrey died in January 2022 after going into cardiac arrest at the company’s cultivation in Holyoke. That June, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued Trulieve three fines totaling $35,219 for alleged violations related to the death, which the company contested, according to OSHA records.

Things got uglier from there, with Alex Halperin of WeedWeek and Eric Casey of Burn After Reading reporting extensively on nearly 400 pages of documents detailing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation into this unprecedented “cannabis worker death from occupational asthma,” which both journalists requested and obtained through the Freedom Of Information Act. Among other revelations, in those documents OSHA states: “This is a work-related fatality. The deceased employee had substantial occupational exposure to ground cannabis, which is a recently identified allergen, symptoms consistent with occupational asthma, and she experienced severe shortness of breath prior to her cardiac arrest.”

Eight months later, in the materials for today’s CCC meeting, the agency included the “Final Order and Stipulated Agreement between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission and Life Essence, Inc. d/b/a Trulieve.” In the “settlement,” which comes “in lieu of further administrative action,” the CCC notes that Trulieve, which no longer operates in Massachusetts, “has cooperated with the Commission’s investigation and has agreed to affirmative action to further industry education and worker safety.” The language reads:

In lieu of the uncertainty and cost of proceeding with an Administrative Hearing  … the Respondent [Trulieve] has agreed to resolve this matter through the Informal Dispute Resolution process. The Respondent has voluntarily agreed to the Stipulated Remedy and subject to ratification by majority vote of the Commission, this Order is binding on both the Commission and Respondent for the purpose of bringing this matter to a final resolution.

The Commission, through its Acting Executive Director, and Respondent have come to mutual agreement and understanding, and jointly propose to the Commission a resolution of the alleged violations in lieu of proceeding with an administrative hearing to determine the merits of such allegations.

The agreement lays out the CCC’s statutory authority and relevant facts of record in detail, including:

  • On November 9, 2021, McMurrey experienced a medical event requiring emergency services while working in Trulieve’s Pre-Roll Room and was taken to the Holyoke Hospital;

  • Because Trulieve did not evaluate Marijuana dust as an allergen requiring a respirator, McMurrey did not undergo a medical evaluation or fitness testing, or training on proper use of respiratory equipment prior to becoming a Flower Production Technician. Furthermore, Trulieve did not provide any records indicating that McMurrey requested to undergo a medical evaluation or fitness testing for respiratory equipment;

  • After this incident, Trulieve did not provide any documentation indicating that the safety manager followed-up with McMurrey. Trulieve did not reassess hazards or identify any hazard mitigation having assessed McMurrey’s medical emergency as a personal health Issue;

  • On January 7, 2022, McMurrey died. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE), a medical examiner determined that McMurrey died due to respiratory arrest which led to cardiac arrest and brain death;

Trulieve “neither admits nor denies the findings,” which include:

  • Respondent did not provide records that it trained workers on the proper use of masks, maintain records of PPE training, or enforce mask use relative to operating the Mobius Mill or the Rocketbox [machines];

  • Respondent did not reassess hazards in the Pre-Roll Room or identify the need for additional PPE to protect against hazards after McMurrey experienced a medical emergency while working in the Pre-Roll Room and despite observations from production employees that the Mobius Mill and Rocketbox produced and generated Marijuana dust into the air throughout the day when in use and that all surfaces, including the floor, would be covered in kief;

  • Respondent failed to maintain complete personnel records demonstrating compliance with all training requirements for its Agents at the Holyoke facility

And a “Stipulated Remedy” section notes: “Respondent agrees to pay a monetary fine in the amount of three-hundred fifty thousand dollars ($350,000.00).”

In a discussion about the proposed order that came more than five hours into today’s meeting, acting CCC Chair Ava Callender Concepcion said, “This has been a long time coming, and a lot of work has gone into this. … As an agency, the Cannabis Control Commission is here to make sure that licensees operate safely—not only for the public, but also for employees by prioritizing safe working conditions. And although we cannot go back and rewrite the past, I am hopeful that by having this discussion today, and with all the work … put into this, that we are contributing to a better and safer industry throughout the country.”

Following a short discussion, in which CCC counsel explained the ceiling for penalties and how the agency assesses fines, the four commissioners present approved the proposed order unanimously.

Per the agreement, should Trulieve want to return to the Bay State, “the Commission may consider this Order and the facts and circumstances described therein in connection with review of an application for licensure, renewal of licensure, or suitability review,” but they’re not automatically disqualified. They’re basically in good standing, since “Such licenses were voluntarily relinquished by Respondent for reasons unrelated to this Order, and such relinquishment is not, and shall not be considered to be, a condition of this Order.”

By comparison, last month the CCC fined Holistic Industries $200,000 for issues related to testing and mold, and stuck the Boston-based Olde World Remedies (which operates a dispensary with that name in Lynn) for $60,000 for a chain of events that started in September 2021, when management discovered that a sales associate had slipped a preroll to his father during a transaction, but neglected to report the freebie slipup to the CCC accordingly.

In accordance with state law, fines issued by the CCC are deposited into the Marijuana Regulation Fund. Fifteen percent of that pot goes to the Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund, with the rest used for administration of the CCC, enforcement of cannabis regulations, jail diversion, and other programs in those veins.