Editor’s note: This is an ongoing article. CBT’s original reporting on Trulieve’s Holyoke, Mass., cannabis cultivation and processing facility can be viewed here.

Trulieve issued a statement Oct. 20 in response to what company officials called “incorrect information” that has circulated about its Holyoke, Mass., cannabis cultivation and processing facility in the wake of a worker’s death.

According to the Tallahassee, Fla.-based multistate operator, that incorrect information includes media reports about personal protective equipment (PPE) and other health protections offered to more than 175 workers at the Holyoke facility. That facility’s health and safety standards have been in question since national media recently learned of Lorna McMurrey’s death. The 27-year-old collapsed Jan. 4 at the company’s Holyoke location and died three days later.

“Unfortunately, some incorrect information has been distributed about Trulieve’s facility in Holyoke and its response to Ms. McMurrey’s collapse on January 4, 2022,” according to the Trulieve statement. “To correct these errors, Trulieve is providing the following information about its facility and the events surrounding Ms. McMurrey’s tragic death.”

The following record is according to Trulieve’s Oct. 20 statement:

Air Quality

At its Holyoke facility, Trulieve installed and at all times operated appropriate industrial air handling systems designed to frequently exchange and filter indoor air associated with processing areas of the facility.  To maintain air quality that is healthy and easily breathable, the Holyoke facility has a special industrial air filtration system that exchanges the air in the grinding room and has been certified by an independent engineer.We use Abatement Technologies Air Scrubbers that are two stage air carbon filtrations for odor control. The two air scrubbers each exchange and clean the air at appropriate intervals.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Trulieve provides N95 masks to employees, contrary to reports stating we only offered paper masks.  On Jan. 4, McMurrey wore an N95 mask for at least a portion of the day, contrary to reports stating Ms. McMurrey was wearing a paper mask. 

Events on Jan. 4, 2022

On Jan. 4, 2022, McMurrey arrived at the Holyoke facility for her regular shift.  She spent the day working in the preroll area, contrary to reports stating she was in the flower grinding room. When McMurrey indicated to her supervisor that she was not feeling well, she was told that she could take the day off with pay, contrary to reports stating we insisted she continue working. However, she opted to return to work in the preroll area.  When McMurrey began to appear to be in distress, Trulieve followed appropriate protocols. A manager promptly called 911. A trained member of the Trulieve security team began to provide CPR, contrary to reports stating that no CPR assistance was provided. EMS arrived quickly and took over management of the response.  Upon arrival at the facility, it took EMS personnel less than one minute to begin medical attention to McMurrey, contrary to reports stating that it took medics a long time to reach the patient once they arrived at the facility.McMurrey was taken to Baystate Hospital where she died on Friday, Jan. 7.

Safety response equipment and training

Trulieve regularly conducts certification training sessions in first aid and the use of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for managers, security and supervisors.All three Trulieve employees who administered CPR to McMurrey on Jan. 4 participated in a full certification CPR training session on Dec. 12, less than one month before the incident. All three were already fully certified in CPR training. This is part of Trulieve’s best practices to ensure training is up to date.One of Trulieve’s trained employees utilized our onsite AED under the direction of the EMS paramedics upon their arrival.  

Notifications to OSHA and Massachusetts CCC

Trulieve properly reported to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission and OSHA that an employee had collapsed in one of our facilities within 24 hours of the incident, contrary to initial reports.Trulieve reported the death of McMurrey to both organizations the next business day. 

OSHA Investigation

OSHA conducted a thorough investigation of the Holyoke facility.As part of its investigation, OSHA took multiple air samples. All the air quality samples tested at the facility complied with relevant standards.OSHA only issued citations to Trulieve under the hazard communication standard. While we are open to all discussions about how to communicate better and provide enhanced training, Trulieve has contested those alleged violations.We believe we have demonstrated a safe and healthy work environment, but we will of course work with OSHA and the Massachusetts CCC to address their concerns.  We want our employees to know they are safe and protected and that we are open to good ideas about any improvements that are necessary.Our industry is relatively new and young, and we will continue to work with all applicable regulators to develop appropriate industry best practices that protect all our workers. We want to lead the industry in establishing these best practices, so our workers know they are being taken care of. Workers deserve a safe and healthy environment.

Concluding Statement

Our thoughts are with the McMurrey family for their loss. Trulieve will continue to operate its facilities in a manner that fully protects the health and safety of all employees.  We are confident we did so in January and will continue to do so going forward. We look forward to working with OSHA and the Massachusetts CCC to establish new best practices.Trulieve looks forward to working with the entire cannabis industry to improve best practices. As our relatively young industry evolves, we want to make sure our workers can operate at all times in a safe and healthy environment.   ]]>

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