Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana use is beginning to have an unfavorable effect on its citizens who attempt to drive out-of-state. Pagosa Springs, Colo., resident Darian Roseen, 70, claims he became a victim of “license-plate profiling” after an Idaho State police officer pulled him over and began searching for marijuana simply due to the state on his license plate, KDVR reported.
“From the facts and even the video of the dash cam of the police car, the conversation turns quickly from a lane change violation to, ‘Where is your marijuana?’” Roseen’s attorney, Mark Coonts, told KDVR. “Just because you’re from Colorado doesn’t mean that you’re automatically carrying marijuana into our state.”
A lawsuit filed by Roseen on Wednesday states the retiree had just entered Idaho from Oregon this past January when an Idaho state trooper began to tail him, eventually pulling him over outside of a rest stop. After a preliminary search of Roseen’s vehicle, he alleges the trooper began a secondary search, both of which did not uncover any illegal activity. Following what he described as multiple searches of the vehicle and a citation for careless driving, Roseen was told he would not be receiving his truck back.
Roseen’s vehicle was detained by Fruitland City Police Department while he rode in the rear of a patrol car back to the Payette County Sheriff’s Office, the Denver Post reported. Although Idaho State Patrol has declined to comment pending the outcome of litigation, a representative said a trooper would not pull a motorist over without probable cause.
Roseen’s brush with the law is not an isolated incident. Fellow Colorado residents David Adkins and his girlfriend Kay Harmon say they also became a victim of “license-plate profiling” after they were pulled over by a Nevada State Patrol Officer just outside of Las Vegas. According to Adkins, after the trooper pulled him over for what he described as swerving, he began questioning the couple about their use of marijuana.
Adkins also claims the trooper had been following another motorist who was speeding, but quickly turned his attention toward Adkins’ Chevrolet Avalanche. A representative from the Nevada State Patrol said a trooper can only force a motorist to pull over with probable cause, in this case constituted by Adkins' swerving. Adkins contends the only time he swerved was when he saw the trooper’s flashing lights in his rearview.
"There was no reason for him to pull us over. Why did he pull us over? Only because we had a Colorado license plate and he stuck his head in there and started sniffing as soon as he came up to the car,” Adkins told KRDO. “He asked me if I was tired and I said no, it's 3 o'clock in the afternoon."
Marijuana stores in Colorado, mainly Denver, began popping up after Jan. 1, 2014, two years after Colorado Amendment 64 was enacted in November 2012. Following the state’s change in drug policy for cannabis use, people over the age of 21 are legally allowed to buy, possess, and use marijuana as long as it is legally obtained from a licensed marijuana retailer.
While people ages 21 and older can recreationally use marijuana, selling or transferring marijuana to minors and driving under the influence of marijuana is still considered illegal. People who carry marijuana across state lines are also subject to legal action.