Closed pot store promises litigation
| February 17, 2011 10:55 AM
A marijuana dispensary in Libby shut
its doors last week after police issued a citation for operating
without a valid city business license.
The business, Helping Center of Libby,
plans to take legal action before its court date next Monday.
“There’s no question we’ll be filing an
action against the city,” said Kevin Moore of the Helping Center.
“… On or before the 21st my attorney will be addressing it.”
In a 4-2 vote, the Libby City Council
revoked the Helping Center’s license last December, effective Feb.
5, after the council determined that the business was in violation
of Libby’s business license ordinance. A clause in the ordinance
requires that businesses follow all applicable local, state and
federal laws. While medical marijuana is legal in Montana, the U.S.
government doesn’t recognize the drug’s medicinal uses.
Councilmembers said they unknowingly
approved the Helping Center’s business license last fall because
the application did not explicitly state it was a medical marijuana
provider, but a “pain clinic.”
Moore, who set up the business in
Libby, contends that he did so in an honest and open way. He argues
that municipals have no right to outlaw a trade that is regulated
by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Resources.
“I think this is an agenda by the
mayor,” Moore said. “I don’t think the council voted freely to have
our license rescinded.”
Mayor Doug Roll disagrees.
“There’s no political agenda. It’s just
the way the law was written. That’s it,” Roll said. “The council
made a decision, after a hearing with this guy, to give him time to
locate somewhere else.”
Moore said the business may temporarily
operate at a location outside the city limits.
“If we have to service our patients at
a new location, we may get a second location very soon,” he
The Libby dispensary is part of the
Helping Centers of Montana – a group of eight separately-registered
S corporations. The medical marijuana clinics operate in Kalispell,
Libby, Bigfork and Columbia Falls, with new clinics in Eureka,
Whitefish, Cut Bank and Glasgow on the horizon.
Rhonda McDowell-Rowen, who works out of
the Kalispell-based corporate office, replaced Moore as director of
the Helping Centers last year. Moore said he has sold all of his
shares to the business and no longer has a financial stake in the
He says he remains involved out of an
obligation to existing shareholders and patients.