New Mexico revokes dispensary license for the first time
A company with dispensaries in Las Cruces and Albuquerque is the first medical cannabis producer in New Mexico to have its license revoked.
State Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher last week revoked the license of Mother Earth Herbs, effective March 31.
Gallagher also permanently banned the company’s president and executive director, Vivian Moore, from working in any capacity for any medical cannabis licensee.Mother Earth Herbs and Moore were accused of submitting falsified audits to the state Health Department, which oversees the medical cannabis program. The program was created in 2007.
Moore has denied falsifying the audits and said in an email Monday that, “We will continue to fight the false allegations made against me and Mother Earth Herbs, Inc. through the courts.”
Mother Earth Herbs and Moore can challenge Gallagher’s actions in state district court.
Mother Earth Herbs is one of about three dozen licensed medical cannabis producers serving more than 58,000 patients approved for the New Mexico program. As of Aug.1, Taos had two nonprofit cannabis producers licensed through the state – New Mexicann Natural Medicine and Southwest Wellness Center.
Mother Earth Herbs has been in business since 2010 and is licensed by the department to produce 450 plants. It began with a dispensary in Las Cruces and expanded to Albuquerque last year.
Licensed medical cannabis producers are required to submit annual audits to the health department. The audits must be conducted by independent certified public accountants.
The department notified Mother Earth Herbs and Moore in January that it planned to revoke the producer’s license and ban Moore from the medical cannabis program for submitting falsified audits for 2014 and 2015.
Mother Earth Herbs and Moore protested the proposed actions. The health department brought in an outside lawyer, Craig Erickson, to serve as hearing examiner. After hearing testimony in April and June he recommended that the department move forward with its proposed action against the company and Moore.
In her decision, Gallagher said Erickson’s recommendations were “appropriate based on the facts and law.”
Erickson wrote in his 133page report that he didn’t find Moore to be credible.
Moore said the audits for 2014 and 2015 were prepared by an accountant who had done previous work for Mother Earth Herbs, according to Erickson’s report. The accountant said his signatures on the audits were forged.
Erickson also noted Moore had failed to produce any documentation that the accountant was hired or paid by Mother Earth Herbs for the audits.
The hearing officer rejected arguments by attorneys for Mother Earth Herbs and Moore that the proposed actions against the producer and its executive director were too severe when compared to the alleged misconduct.
Erickson recommended Gallagher give Mother Earth Herbs a reasonable time to shut down if the secretary decided to revoke the producer’s license.
A handful of medical cannabis at a dispensary in Albuquerque.