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Cannabis worker’s death triggers closer OSHA industry scrutiny

The cannabis industry is on notice from OSHA to improve how workers are protected following the asthma-related death of a Boston woman whose job involved grinding and handling cannabis.

The worker at Trulieve's Holyoke, Mass., processing factory died on January 7 following exposure to "occupational quantities of whole and ground cannabis," according to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration hazard alert letter issued in June along with citations.

While OSHA's immediate enforcement actions apply to just one facility where the woman worked, they signal the agency is taking a closer look at protecting workers at cannabis growers, processors, and retailers as the industry grows exponentially.

"The federal government is making it clear that the cannabis industry is subject to its oversight and will be treated like any other legitimate business in this context, notwithstanding the federal illegality of cannabis," said Heidi Urness, chair of the cannabis practice group at McGlinchey Stafford PLLC in Seattle.

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