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Norman Councilman to Face Trial in Drug Paraphernalia Case

30-May-2016

At a preliminary hearing in Cleveland County District Court, a Norman city councilman has been ordered to stand trial on charges related to the sale of drug paraphernalia.

Ward 7 Councilman Stephen Holman was general manager of The Friendly Market, a store that listed among its offerings hemp apparel, hemp soap, and glass pipes before it closed its doors on April 30 amidst the legal woes of Holman and the store's owner, Robert Cox, both of whom wer arrested in relation to the sale of glass water pipes.

According to an affidavit, police executing a search warrant at The Friendly Market discovered "a large amount of items of drug paraphernalia including glass pipes, rolling papers, and grinders." Norman police seized those items and additionally seized "a large sum of U.S. currency along with documentation pertaining to the sale of these items." The affidavit claims that some of the cash and documentation was discovered in Holman's personal briefcase. Reports say police seized $4,000 cash from Holman and The Friendly Market.

Holman and Cox have each been charged with one felony count of acquiring proceeds from drug activity (63 O.S. § 2-503) and twelve misdemeanor counts of possession of drug paraphernalia (63 O.S. § 2-405).

Both have pleaded not guilty to all charges, saying the items in the shop were not illegal nor intended to be used for illegal purposes. 

Cleveland County Special Judge Michael Tupper called the law pertaining to the sale of water pipes "foggy," saying that courts around the nation have used different criteria to determine whether such pipes are drug paraphernalia or whether they have legitimate use:

“Some courts held that an object cannot be paraphernalia unless the defendant intends for it to be used with illegal drugs, while other courts have held that under certain circumstances an object can be drug paraphernalia regardless of the defendant's intent.”

Judge Tupper, a former prosecutor, said that the evidence presented in the preliminary hearing indicates that the pipes sold at The Friendly Market were manufactured for the purpose of using illegal controlled substances--marijuana in particular. Tupper said the defendant's cannot feign ignorance of the items' purpose as a defense against the charges. He has ordered both Holman and Cox to stand trial.

The Friendly Market Facebook page published a comment stating, "The store is closed for now, but we plan to reopen when our legal case is finished."



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