A state district court judge indicated Wednesday he may overturn the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services' decision last month to revoke the license of one of the two medical marijuana providers in Billings city limits.
Yellowstone County District Judge Don Harris last week granted a temporary restraining order to Montana Organic Medical Supply owner Steven Palmer, allowing the provider to continue doing business while he asks the court to reinstate his license and correct violations identified during an inspection of his business in June.
The inspection took place about a month after a suite of new regulations for the state’s medical marijuana program went into effect in April. In August, Palmer received an inspection report alleging he had failed to conduct lab tests on marijuana and marijuana products prior to sale, improperly labeled products at the dispensary and purchased products from another provider, among other violations.
He received a notice that his license had been revoked about a week later, he stated in court documents.
While Palmer and his attorney, Melinda Driscoll, disputed some of the alleged violations, they argued the state had not given him an opportunity to correct them before effectively shutting his business down.
“My client has never contended that they’ve been in full compliance,” Driscoll said. “However, he’s always been completely transparent with the department … his good-faith efforts have always been to come into compliance.”
Representing DPHHS during a roughly three-hour hearing in Yellowstone County District Court Wednesday, state attorney Andrew Huff argued that multiple violations identified in a June inspection of Montana Organic Medical Supply, owned by Helena resident Steven Palmer, had created a public health danger that warranted the state pulling the provider’s license.
“The state can simply not determine if he’s selling safe products to card holders,” Huff told the judge.
Harris questioned the immediacy of the violations, however, and suggested the department’s interpretation of a state law dealing with license revocations may have infringed on his constitutional rights.
“To the extent that the department uses that statute to revoke a license without prior notice of its intent to do so, and without affording a meaningful opportunity for the licensee to be heard, I believe that infringes upon the fundamental due process right without any compelling state interest,” Harris said.
Harris said he’ll likely issue a decision next week.