Charges dropped: Remaining cases against Norman’s ‘Friendly Market’ dismissed

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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,” said defense attorney Blake Lynch told NewsChannel 4 in 2016.

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

Although prosecutors were planning on moving forward with other charges in the case, it seems those plans have changed.

On Monday, 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.

In a news release, the district attorney’s office said that the decision came after many conversations with law enforcement and the jurors of the trials. The agency said the evidence for the remaining charges was not substantially different than what had already been presented at trial.

“The reason we care about enforcing drug laws is because we see the chaos and destruction drug use causes,” District Attorney Greg Mashburn said. “One of my roles as a prosecutor is to identify trends and causes of violent crime and do my part to deter those crimes.”

Mashburn said that he will continue to work with the Norman Police Department and other law enforcement agencies to “gather the necessary evidence to successfully prosecute these cases in the future.”

“We have had many positive conversations with citizens, and understand how they feel about illegal drugs. By taking paraphernalia off the streets, I believe we can help deter illegal drug use. Less illegal drug use means a safer community,” he said.

Following the announcement that charges were dismissed, it seems that the owners have plans to reopen the business.

“We are very happy to have these matters finally resolved. The statement from the district attorney gives us little confidence that our clients will avoid harassment when they open back up, but for now we will enjoy the moment. We are thankful that the DA (eventually) allowed the voice of the jury to give our clients some finality,” Lynch said.

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