“Just a complete misreading of the statute,” Attorneys clash after Norman pipe shop mistrial

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NORMAN, Okla. - Owners of a local business said they’re being unfairly targeted because of the products they sell in their store.

The Norman pipe shop was raided about a year ago.

The employees were accused of selling drug paraphernalia.

There’s already been one mistrial in the case.

Attorneys said this could take years to resolve.

There are three more trials to go.

The Friendly Market in Norman is shut down.

It has been for months after police raided the store twice, seizing sales reports and glass pipes.

"People use them to smoke all kinds of different herbs and tobacco products," said manager Stephen Holman.

The first trial against a clerk just ended in a mistrial.

The jury was hung in favor of the Friendly Market.

“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.

Lynch represents all four of the employees.

He said prosecutors failed to prove the store sold the products knowing the intent was to use marijuana.

Prosecutors charged two young clerks, councilman Holman, and the owner, Robert Cox.

'We informed him about the state law regarding drug paraphernalia, and he was asked to remove certain items from his store to be in compliance with state law,” said Norman Police spokesperson Sarah Jensen.

“Hopefully, a judge will stand up and say ‘I’m not trying this case again,’” Lynch said.

The clerks are charged with misdemeanors.

Holman and Cox are facing lifetime felony convictions if the state wins.

District Attorney Greg Mashburn told NewsChannel 4 the store broke the law and is confident to retry the latest case next year.

“Because some police officers and detectives have misread the law and believe that any glass pipe is paraphernalia and you can be arrested just for holding it, which is only true in the city of Norman, they’ve kind of ruined the mission of a very kind man,” Lynch said.

Police also seized $5,000 from the store saying the money was drug proceeds, although the civil asset forfeiture complaint was dropped.

The next trial is set for the end of January.

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