Owners of ‘Friendly Market’ asking for seized property to be returned to store

NORMAN, Okla. – It’s a case that has been surrounded in public scrutiny following several trials in Cleveland County.

In 2015, Norman police raided ‘The Friendly Market,’ claiming the glass pipes that were sold in the store were considered drug paraphernalia.

In addition to seizing merchandise, store owners say officers seized thousands of dollars from the business.

“Any material pipes that were in this store were paraphernalia regardless of the intent of the user, which is just a complete misreading of the statute,”  defense attorney Blake Lynch told NewsChannel 4 in 2016.

Following the raid, charges were filed against several employees and the owners of the business.

The first trial against a clerk ended in a mistrial, in favor of ‘The Friendly Market.’

In May, Robert Cox and Stephen Holman were found not guilty on charges related to selling drug paraphernalia.

Last month, Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said that he will not pursue the case any further.

Instead, the state dismissed all charges in the case.

 

While the criminal case against ‘The Friendly Market’ is over, court documents show that the owners want their seized property back.

Over the years, law enforcement officers have seized a variety of merchandise that was considered drug paraphernalia from the store.

Even though the charges against the defendants were dismissed, Cleveland County officials say they cannot return the seized property because it is “illegal contraband and its return is prohibited by law.”

“The property at issue consists of grinders, water pipes, bongs, one-hitters, carburetor pipes, glass tubes, and various other items which are fashioned specifically for the ingestion and inhaling of marijuana, hashish, hashish oil, marijuana wax and other controlled dangerous substances. While it could certainly be argued that the items could be used to smoke other legitimate substances, such as tobacco, the primary and intended design of these items is for the consumption of controlled substances,” court documents filed by the Cleveland County assistant district attorneys read.

The documents state that tobacco shops do not usually sell these types of items, adding that certain features of the items make them ‘undesirable for the consumption of tobacco.’

“Much like a drug distribution case where marijuana is seized as evidence, regardless of the outcome of the case, it would be absurd to argue that a police department or state government should be compelled to return illegal drugs to a defendant. Just like actual marijuana, the property for which Applicant seeks return is illegal contraband and is not any different than any other item deemed illegal under the Oklahoma UCDSA,” the document read.