On November 12, 2015 the Norman police and DEA raided the Friendly Market, a tobacco shop that sold glass and wooden tobacco pipes. Overall they took around $2,000 in cash and $10,000 in merchandise. No arrests were made during the November raid and Holman and his attorney both agree that that no crime was committed and the products aren’t against the law.
Previously the department gave Stephen Holman, the stores manager and local city council member, a warning in May about the states laws on drug paraphernalia. They asked him to remove certain items -glass pipes- so the shop would be in compliance with state drug paraphernalia laws.
Due to multiple raids on head shops in the Norman area the products were removed but were re-stocked after a consultation with a lawyer and a meeting with the police chief and district attorney.
Overall they took around $2,000 in cash and $10,000 in merchandise. No arrests were made during the November raid and Holman and his attorney both agree that that no crime was committed and the products aren’t against the law.
After the police got a tip that the Friendly Market was back in stock, they sent in an undercover officer to make a buy of the prohibited products. On December 1, 2015, after the purchase was made, local police and DEA officials conducted a six hour raid seizing glass pipes, rolling papers, sales reports and cash. They even took Holman’s briefcase that had a pre-prepared bank deposit in it.
The amount of cash and the value of the merchandise confiscated during the second raid have not been disclosed and no receipt was provided after the raid but the entire collection of glass pipes was gone.
Holman doesnt contest the fact that some of the items sold in the store may be used for the consumption of drugs but after his customers get home, what they do with their purchase, is not his business; noting that any innocuous item can be used for insidious purposes.
It’s full of glass pipes that you could use for smoking illegal drugs, but Holman says that’s not their intention. What people do with them when they become their property and take it home is up to them. It’s theirs at that point,” Holman said
Brecken Wagner, the attorney representing the shop, believes that no crime has been committed and the store is within its legal rights to sell the glass pipes.
This really is nothing more than intimidation, harassment, and law enforcement trying to push their will on other people as well as civil forfeiture, Wagner said
Stephen Holman and Robert Cox were both charged with seven counts following the December raid, one count of acquiring funds from drug proceeds and six counts of drug paraphernalia possession.
Two other shops, McCloudz and fatheads, have been shut down for selling items similar to the Friendly Market.
The drug war is out of control. The targets are no longer limited to violent drug cartels or large production operations. Small business owners are now on the radar if their shops sell items that people may choose to use for drug use. The paraphernalia law in place here isn’t for anyones protection. It’s only purpose is to make it more inconvenient for people to buy things. It’s a nuisance and its enforcement only turns innocent people who have acted voluntarily for profit and pleasure.
Millions of people smoke weed every day regardless of the fact that it’s illegal; some of those people are smoking from a prison cell. Prohibition has always been a poor excuse to control the behavior of others This creates a disrespect for the law and it is no longer seen as something that keeps you safe but as something that stops the consumption of enjoyable substances.
With prohibition comes a rise in organized crime. Thanks to prohibition the gangster is not only well paid, he is well liked. People want their vices and laws will never stop the market. Thanks to prohibition drugs have been sold online, in prisons, on the street and in stores on a daily basis. When there is a demand for something, there is always someone who is willing to supply it for a profit.
Prohibition corrupts institutions of justice. Policeman politicians and others all have a price and it wasn’t too hard to bribe or blackmail them. If that didn’t work more democratic measures can be taken and this leads to a class of candidates who for lack of a better term are “for sale”.
With organized crime, corruptible officials and a general disrespect for the law prohibition is a failure. Billions of dollars have been spent trying to keep drugs off our streets but realistically they aren’t even keep drugs out of their prisons and have a suffered a massive defeat.
Bill Hicks said it best ”
“I loved when Bush came out and said, ‘We are losing the war against drugs.’
You know what that implies? There’s a war being fought, and the people on drugs are winning it.”