Charges Dismissed Against Smoke Shop Owner; Shop Closes

A Jefferson Park Smoke Shop owner and operator has defeated charges that he unlawfully sold drugs to undercover officers. The owner was facing four counts, two felonies, and two misdemeanors. The man was accused of selling marijuana from his smoke shop but confessed only to smoking marijuana. 

Separately, building inspectors shut down the building that the owner was operating out of. As of right now, the smoke shop is shut down and will not be reopening. The landlord claims that he tossed the tenant due to his legal troubles. The tenant claims that building inspectors shut down the building due to rotten columns. As it stands, the tenant is correct. The building was cited for rotting or broken columns, a lack of smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, and improperly stored flammable materials. All of that would be on the landlord and not the tenant. 

Suspect Victim of Hate Crime

The tenant was the victim of a hate crime by a former employee after swastikas were painted on his storefront. The individual who painted the swastikas has been charged with a hate crime and is still in jail awaiting those charges. Swastikas were left on other businesses operated by people of color. 

Nonetheless, the business was targeted by local law enforcement, who claimed that the owner sold them marijuana from his storefront. In a case like this, the prosecutor only has one thing: The testimony of the officers who were involved in the sting. So, the question then becomes: Why did the court reject their testimony, and why were the charges dismissed if an unlawful transaction was recorded?

Typically, sting operations such as these are considered the next best thing to a confession. You have law enforcement recording something illegal that occurred with a member of the public. If the owner sold them pot, then that is all the prosecution should have to establish. Why, then, did the court dismiss the charges?

Well, it was not the owner who sold the pot; it was an employee. If the owner was able to establish that the employee was acting at his own behest, and he probably had the employee’s testimony to establish that, then charges against the owner would have been dismissed. In other words, prosecutors could not establish that the owner was aware that the employee was selling pot out of his storefront.

While it is legal to sell pot in Illinois, stores must be properly licensed. Such licenses create barriers to entry into the market but also prevent storefronts from selling potentially dangerous products or homegrown stuff from their backyard. It also forces them to comply with state laws concerning selling the product to minors. 

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

Selling pot without a license is a crime, and folks are still facing charges related to that crime. If you have been charged with possession or sale of marijuana, call Chicago criminal defense attorney David Freidberg, today at (312) 560-7100, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately. 


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