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Norman police chief warned Friendly Market owner pipes were illegal

Police Chief Keith Humphrey

Police Chief Keith Humphrey

NORMAN — Police Chief Keith Humphrey testified Thursday he personally met with Robert Cox, owner of The Friendly Market, and told him glass pipes the store sold were illegal.

The chief testified two hours in a trial courtroom packed with fellow law enforcement officers.

Humphrey said he met with Cox about six months before police raided the store in late 2015.

In a meeting he described as "cordial," Humphrey said Cox tried to convince him to stop enforcing drug paraphernalia laws and allow the sale of glass pipes at The Friendly Market. Cox said he believed marijuana eventually would be legalized in Oklahoma, the chief said.

"When you look at the law, marijuana is illegal and we have to enforce that," Humphrey said he told Cox.

Attorneys for Cox and Norman City Councilman Stephen Tyler Holman, who managed the store, claim the pipes are not illegal and can be used to smoke tobacco and other legal substances. The two each face a felony charge of acquiring proceeds from drug activity, as well as misdemeanor charges of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Humphrey testified Cox said he had invested $125,000 in opening the store and sales declined sharply when it briefly stopped selling glass pipes, which with related items made up 90 percent of sales.

Humphrey said he advised Cox to talk to the Legislature if he wanted the law changed.

The chief said Cox sent him several letters trying to convince the police department to change its stance on the sale of glass pipes. Humphrey read several passages aloud in court, including one in which Cox invited Humphrey to visit The Friendly Market and meet some customers.

Humphrey said he never responded to any of the letters on the advice of the Norman city attorney's office.

In three days of trial, jurors have seen hidden camera video of undercover police officers purchasing glass pipes at the store, as well as heard testimony from detectives that the items are used for smoking marijuana.

One detective also explained to jurors how a bong works.

The trial in Cleveland County District Court will continue Friday and jury deliberations are not expected to begin until at least Monday.

Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey joined The Oklahoman in January 2013 as a business writer. During her time at The Oklahoman, she has walked across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to-south down Western Avenue, and once east-to-west, tracing the old U.S. Route 66.... Read more ›

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