An employee of Green Thumb Industries (CSE: GTII) (OTCQX: GTBIF) died recently while on the job at a grow operation in Rock Island, Illinois, raising additional questions about worker safety in the cannabis industry following another worker death last year in Massachusetts.
Though little is yet known about the Illinois victim or how she died, WeedWeek reported that the death took place in a “non-work area of the facility,” per a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Agriculture. And the Rock Island county coroner told the news outlet that the death is being attributed to natural causes and not the work environment.
GTI confirmed the death to WeedWeek and said last week the company was still working on confirming details surrounding the circumstances of the death, which it called a “tragic event” and said “our deepest condolences go out to her family.”
“However we have no reason to believe it was related to the work environment,” GTI said in a statement. “We are focused on supporting our team members and the family during this difficult time.”
WeedWeek reported that the woman who died was roughly 60 years old, and had recently switched from a desk job to one in a production area of the grow, according to a coworker identified as “Marv.”
Marv told WeedWeek that he had been subject to coughing fits while working in the GTI grow, and also said he received a “very threatening” call from a GTI human resources staffer after he posted on social media that a coworker had died.
Separately, an official with the Teamsters Local 777 told WeedWeek that the worker had died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
GTI is also still facing a number of federal labor complaints filed with the National Labor Relations Board by the Teamsters, in connection with a nearly two-week strike at three of GTI’s Illinois dispensaries.
The possibility that the GTI worker died from breathing-related issues runs parallel to reports that another cannabis cultivation worker employed by multistate operator Trulieve, who died in January 2022 at one of the company’s Massachusetts grows after suffering a reaction to “ground cannabis dust,” a report from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration stated.
That situation was ultimately settled by Trulieve for a fine of just $14,502.
It’s yet unclear whether OSHA will take on a new investigation into the most recent death at the GTI Rock Island facility, but GTI has been cited at least four times in the past by OSHA for various violations, WeedWeek reported, including two complaints filed just this year regarding the Rock Island grow. Both of those complaints are still open.
GTI spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday from Green Market Report.