Why it matters: The death of a worker in a cannabis production facility in Massachusetts has been identified as work-related occupational asthma, leading to “missed opportunities for prevention.” This is the first case of its kind, highlighting the need for better safety measures in the rapidly expanding cannabis industry.
What they are saying: An analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the 27-year-old worker’s death was caused by work-related occupational asthma. The worker, identified as Lorna L. McMurrey, died while grinding and packaging pre-rolled joints at a Trulieve production facility. The investigation found that four of McMurrey’s coworkers also had respiratory tract or skin symptoms.
The big picture: The incident raises concerns about the occupational health and safety practices in the cannabis industry. The CDC report highlights the emerging concern of occupational allergic diseases, including asthma, in the rapidly expanding U.S. cannabis industry. It emphasizes the need for a multifaceted approach to prevention, including controlling asthmagen exposures, providing worker training, and conducting medical monitoring.
What to watch: The case highlights the importance of implementing proper safety measures in the cannabis industry to protect workers’ health. It remains to be seen how regulators and industry stakeholders will respond to these concerns and what actions will be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future.
My take: The death of the worker in the Massachusetts cannabis production facility is a tragic reminder of the risks workers face in the industry. It underscores the need for comprehensive safety measures to protect workers from occupational hazards, especially as the cannabis industry continues to grow. Employers should prioritize worker training, provide proper ventilation and filtration systems, and regularly assess and monitor workplace hazards to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees.