HALLOWELL — Citing a rule seeking people of “good moral character,” city councilors Monday night unanimously denied a recreational marijuana retail license for Hallowell’s longest-running medical pot store after a 25-year-old misdemeanor conviction was unearthed through a background check.

Derek Wilson, who has operated the Cannabis Healing Center at 184 Water St. since January 2017, was charged with disorderly conduct, a Class E misdemeanor, in 1993, according to a background check reported by Hallowell Police Chief Eric Nason. Wilson’s application did not disclose the conviction when prompted.

Wilson was one of two people who won a lottery last month to obtain a license to sell recreational pot, pending the background check.

Nason said a criminal charge could warrant a summons or an arrest. Per the city’s recreational marijuana ordinance, successful applicants must be of “good moral character,” a clause that has been criticized by councilors for being too subjective.

Wilson, who was not in attendance for the meeting Monday night, took flak from councilors for not attending meetings and explaining the criminal charge. Councilor Kate Dufour said she was inclined to deny Wilson’s application, arguing that a conviction or arrest of any kind would make an imprint in someone’s mind that they should not forget if they were arrested.

“I think a judge of good moral character is being principled when it’s difficult,” she said. “I would rather someone say to me, ‘Yeah, I made a mistake,’… rather than waiting for us to discover that mistake.”

Councilor Michael Frett said he would never forget the time he was arrested when he was 16 years old. He added that he was not convicted of a crime.

Mayor Mark Walker said Wilson spoke with him, saying that he simply forgot the disorderly conduct charge.

Wilson’s business is no longer licensed to sell marijuana in Hallowell, according to City Manager Nate Rudy. His license was vacated and then awarded to Catherine Lewis. Lewis owns Homegrown the Offering at 109 Water St., which was the lone downtown storefront to not receive a license in the December lottery.

Rudy said there would be enforcement action to make sure Wilson’s business does not sell recreational marijuana. It is still eligible to do business in Hallowell selling other products. Rudy also suggested postponing action to afford Wilson time to address the council.

The other downtown license was given to Allison Michaud, who will run The Frost Factory at 144 Water St. Michaud had six prior convictions on her record from 1997 to 2005.

Michaud’s convictions were for unlawful trafficking in scheduled drug, hindering apprehension or prosecution and four counts of theft by unauthorized taking between 2003 and 2005.

Michaud spoke during the public hearing to explain her prior convictions, which moved the council to issue her a provisional license pending final code enforcement checks.

“I struggled in my 20s a little bit being a young, single mom,” she said. “There was nothing heinous; I certainly wasn’t trying to hide anything.”

Michaud said the trafficking charge was for cultivating marijuana.

Michaud did not disclose all six convictions on her application, but councilors believed admitting some of them was better than leaving them off the application.

Last month, Derek Wilson, owner of the Cannabis Healing Center, and Allison Michaud and Derek King, proprietors of The Frost Factory, were awarded licenses in a lottery. Councilors previously voted to limit downtown marijuana retail stores from three to two.

Interim Code Enforcement Officer Rick Seymour said both Cold Brook Cannabis and The Cannabis Healing Center met a set of standards for safety. He said The Frost Factory’s space at 144 Water St. was not checked because it is still being set up.

Rudy said Lewis has already passed code enforcement checks. Nason said no convictions were found for Lewis, nor the other applicant, Jarrod Desjardins, owner of Cold Brook Cannabis.

Desjardins was given a license unanimously. He could receive the license to operate any day.

City Solicitor Amy Tchao said medical marijuana caregivers are subject to a background check, but only for convictions within the last 10 years. Michaud said she confused the caregiver check with the convictions list on her local application, leading to some charges not being placed on the application.

Dufour cast the lone dissenting vote for Michaud’s application.

Lewis or Wilson could not be immediately reached for comment.

Ahead of the hearing, Walker disclosed that a corporation run by his four children owns the building that the Frost Factory is leasing a space in. He said his law office is on the second floor, but he was unaware of the agreement reached between the corporation and Michaud.

Walker offered to recuse himself from moderating the public hearing, but councilors did not find that necessary.

No members of the public spoke during the hearing.

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME


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