While other Norman stores openly sell glass pipes, artist still faces drug charges
NORMAN — Nearly three years after police raided his store and glassblowing studio, artist Tamichael McCloud still has trouble sleeping at night.
McCloud, 42, said he lives in constant fear of his house being raided by Norman police, who told him they would search his home if he continued to sell glass pipes in the city. The slightest sounds wake him up at night — he thinks it's the police coming, he said.
"I wouldn't wish this upon anybody because it is mentally draining, it's emotionally draining, it's physically draining," McCloud said. "It's been going on for almost three years now."
McCloud is facing 51 counts of possession of drug paraphernalia after police searched his now-closed Norman shop, McCloud'z Pipes & Novelties, in April 2015.
He's also charged with possession of marijuana within 1000 feet of a park, after police found residue in a pipe during a search of his personal vehicle, which was parked outside his store the day of the police raid.
The Cleveland County District Attorney's office added 49 additional counts of possession of drug paraphernalia to his case after McCloud refused to accept a plea agreement, he said.
This year, at least two stores in Norman opened selling the same style of glass pipes that McCloud was charged with selling in 2015.
His case could go to trial as early as January in Cleveland County District Court.
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- Video: Glass pipe store raided (2017-12-28)
Within a month of the raid, McCloud was forced to close his Norman store.
McCloud sold other pieces of art glass at his Norman store — everything from marbles to goblets — but the store just wasn't profitable without the revenue from glass pipe sales.
Norman police seized much of the store's inventory of glass pipes as evidence in McCloud's case. Some of the pieces were one-of-a kind works of art by nationally-renowned glass artists worth thousands of dollars, McCloud said.
He also says he lost about $30,000 that he invested in building his Norman glass blowing studio.
McCloud has since reopened a new store, OKC BoroSilicate, 8489 NE 23 in Spencer. He said Spencer police have not bothered him about selling glass pipes.
Glass pipe sales resume
The state is still prosecuting McCloud, although three defendants from a different Norman store, The Friendly Market, were acquitted of all drug paraphernalia charges in a similar case.
The rest of the charges remaining in The Friendly Market case against store owner Robert Cox and a store clerk were dismissed at the request of the Cleveland County District Attorney's office earlier this year after the acquittals.
The Friendly Market has since reopened in Norman, selling the same style of glass pipes McCloud is charged with possessing.
Another store that sells glass pipes, Ziggyz Cannabis Co., also opened in Norman in October. The new Ziggyz store has a large exterior sign that features the image of a marijuana leaf, just a mile and a half west of McCloud's old shop on Main Street.
Norman City Councilman Stephen Holman, who is also manager of The Friendly Market, said The Friendly Market and Ziggyz haven't had any problems with police since reopening.
"One of the things that really stands out about these cases is the inconsistencies in how they have been handled," Holman said.
Holman said the Norman City Council could look at asking for an investigation into the Norman Police Department's handling of cases like McCloud's, but city protocol for starting such an investigation is unclear and untested as of yet.
When McCloud'z was open, it was a popular destination during Norman's monthly Art Walk, where people could watch glass blowing demonstrations, Holman said.
"Almost three years after his store closed, that storefront is still empty today," Holman said. "That's a storefront that is not generating any sales tax revenue for the city."
McCloud says search was illegal
McCloud says he believes Norman police should have never been authorized to search his store or his personal vehicle.
"I feel like I have to fight this and stand up for my rights because all of this is just being swept under the rug," McCloud said.
He claims Norman police never contacted him before the raid to let him know they considered the glass pipes in his store to be illegal.
City inspectors visited his shop to approve his glass blowing studio before it opened. Police also visited the Norman shop several times after burglar alarms there went off, but said nothing to him about the glass pipes inside, he said.
"At the very least, Norman police should have contacted us, which they did not do," McCloud said.
According to a copy of a search warrant affidavit filed in the case, an undercover Norman police detective visited McCloud'z in April 2015 and found numerous items he believed to be drug paraphernalia, including glass pipes and bongs.
" ... the majority of the items for sale inside the business were items of drug paraphernalia," the detective wrote in the affidavit.
In a statement, Norman police said the search warrant police served on McCloud's store "was reviewed by a neutral and detached judge who determined that there was probable cause."
"Should a court of competent jurisdiction subsequently determine that the search warrant is illegal, the Norman Police Department will review its procedures to determine if any changes are necessary," Sarah Jensen, a spokeswoman for Norman Police said in the statement. "In absence of such a determination, the Norman Police Department does not anticipate any changes regarding its procedures for seeking search warrants."
The District Attorney Greg Mashburn's office said it could not comment on the matter because McCloud's case is still pending.
McCloud said he recently called the City of Norman again to ask whether it was legal to sell glass pipes there.
"I called the city two weeks ago and they said 'yes it's still OK to sell glass pipes,'" he said. "So I asked, 'why was I raided?' and they referred me over to their legal department."