Pubdate: Fri, 13 Jan 2006
Source: News-Record, The (WY)
Copyright: 2006 The News-Record
Author: James Warden


A store owner arrested on charges of selling drug paraphernalia has 
been acquitted of charges that his products were drug related.

On Aug. 10, police confiscated brightly colored pipes, bongs and 
about 130 similar items from Hip Hop Hippie, a Butler Spaeth store 
that advertised "smoking accessories."

Officers arrested store owner Jeffrey Doles, 35, when he re-opened 
the store with an even larger inventory two days later. They said 
Doles' products were obvious examples of drug paraphernalia and 
charged him with delivery of drug paraphernalia and two counts of 
possession with intent to deliver drug paraphernalia.

But jury members disagreed. When it came time to reach a verdict 
Wednesday, they acquitted him in just 30 minutes on all charges.

"I wasn't surprised at all," Doles said. "I wasn't doing anything 
illegal. I was never, not once, doing anything outside the color of 
the law, never."

Doles said he never advocated smoking marijuana and points out that 
the products have many legitimate uses.

"Just because they're wearing a uniform, just because they say it's 
the law, does not mean it's the law," he said.

But Police Chief Rich Adriaens worries that jury members looked more 
at technicalities than the reasonableness of the charges. Adriaens 
said there's enough leeway in the law that Gillette residents serving 
on the jury could have made an important stand against drugs, but 
they chose to act differently.

Despite the verdict, he said it's disingenuous to claim that Doles' 
products don't promote marijuana. He pointed out that bongs and 
hookahs aren't seen in local restaurants.

"Out of a million instances, if one of those pipes is used for 
tobacco, does that mean those products are meant for tobacco use or 
for marijuana use?" he asked. "Just because six people found someone 
not guilty doesn't mean the crime didn't occur."

Nick Carter, Doles' lawyer, said it's important to have checks on 
what officials deem illegal and the law recognizes that. Although he 
said there's always some uncertainty about how a case will pan out, 
he said he was comfortable with the legal arguments in this case.

"It's kind of a dangerous path when we just start believing whatever 
law enforcement says is drug related," Carter said.

Doles is already looking forward to setting up shop again. He said 
he'll start pressing to get his inventory back in the next week and 
hopes to open his doors to customers the following week.

"I think it's actually going to be a little easier," he said about 
starting up the business after five months of lost profits. "Now 
everyone in Wyoming is going to know Hip Hop Hippie is on 610 Butler Spaeth."
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