When an asthma attack killed Lorna McMurrey, it should have set off alarms industrywide. But her death didn’t become publicly known for eight months, even as thousands of cannabis workers were—and continue to be— exposed to similar risks every day.Death of a Trimmer (Part 1): A cannabis worker’s death went unnoticed for months. Now it’s raising alarms in the industry.
Dave Howard Published on January 24, 2023
OG Article: here.
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When an asthma attack killed Lorna McMurrey, it should have set off alarms industrywide. But her death didn’t become publicly known for eight months, even as thousands of cannabis workers were—and continue to be— exposed to similar risks every day.
The Jan. 7, 2022, death of Trulieve employee Lorna McMurrey in Holyoke, Massachusetts, marked one of the first work-related fatalities in the legal cannabis industry. Leafly is marking the one-year anniversary of her passing with “Death of a Trimmer,” an investigative series that raises troubling questions about worker safety in the legal marijuana industry.
Part One chronicles Lorna McMurrey’s life, tragic death, and the aftermath of the incident.
Part Two examines the emerging hazards of cannabis work and the urgent need for safety measures in an industry still in its infancy.
When Lorna McMurrey took a job at a marijuana production facility in Holyoke, Massachusetts, it was a central cog in her plan to level up her life.
Legal cannabis wasn’t an idly chosen profession: McMurrey was a proud consumer, and was genuinely interested in the process of how marijuana is grown, processed, and sold, says her stepfather, Dave Bruneau.
Lorna McMurrey: Loved her job
She hoped the job with Trulieve—the nation’s largest cannabis company—would help her take the next steps toward a fully independent life. The regular paycheck would allow her to buy a car, get out from under her parents’ roof, and move into an apartment with friends.
At 27, she was a bit of a late bloomer, having briefly dropped out of high school before going back to earn her degree. “She raised a little hell,” Bruneau says, “but she was a good kid.”
The job was great, except…
She loved the job, Bruneau recalls, except for one issue: Toward the end of 2021 she was having trouble with the dust in the air from the dried and broken-down flower going into the pre-rolled joints she was assembling.
In November 2021, McMurrey posted on Facebook about an incident that left her gasping for air: