Doug Moxon recently found himself at the intersection of two marijuana-related stories we've covered in recent years — alleged pot profiling of Colorado drivers by law-enforcement agencies in other states and the phenomenon of tourists leaving their extra weed in rental cars before they leave town, since it's illegal for them to take cannabis on flights back home.
What happened? As reported by CBS4, Moxon and his family drove a rental car to Missouri, only to discover upon their arrival that 3.5 grams of marijuana had been in the vehicle the whole time.
Why might that have been a problem? Because Moxon tells the station he was almost pulled over by state troopers in Missouri — and during the drive to his destination and back, he saw at least six cars that had been pulled over by the authorities.
Moxon doesn't mention if all of these vehicles had Colorado license plates, but over the past few years, we've heard plenty of stories about that happening, particularly in Kansas, a state he crossed in order to reach Missouri.
Indeed, in April 2014, we asked the headline question "Are Kansas Cops Targeting Rental Vehicles With Colorado Plates?" Here's an excerpt from that post:
Daniel Huling tells us that he and a friend were driving from Ohio to Kansas last November in an Enterprise rental truck towing a trailer when "I started seeing all these cops on the side of the road. I was wondering what was happening and thought it might be related to what I'd heard was happening with Colorado license plates.
"They were obviously radioing each other, because a cop pulled in front of me two miles down the road," Huling continues. "It was a 75 zone and they were going 55. So I slowed down for a while behind them, then decided to pass them — but I definitely wasn't speeding when I did. I was only going about 65."
Nonetheless, Huling was pulled over, with the Kansas officer informing him "that the plates didn't match the registration," he recalls. "My immediate response was to get upset about the rental company giving us a truck that didn't have matching plates — but I was also suspicious about being pulled over, since I didn't do anything wrong. So I called 911."
After telling the dispatcher what was happening, "she told me the plates didn't match the registration, and they were doing a routine stop," Huling maintains. "She said they randomly run plates on the highway all the time."
In the meantime, officers on the scene brought out a drug-sniffing dog. One cop subsequently claimed that the dog had alerted to the vehicle, so it would have to be searched.
The search took approximately half an hour. During that time, an officer asked Huling to join him at his cruiser — and after Huling declined, he could hear the law enforcers talking among themselves about how uncooperative he was being. But the search turned up no marijuana, as Huling knew it wouldn't — neither he nor his friend had any — and the pair were eventually allowed to go on their way.
Afterward, Huling says he called Enterprise, and the person with whom he spoke "confirmed that the paperwork was fine and everything matched. And they said they'd been getting a lot of calls like mine — calls from furious customers from Kansas and a couple of other states where the police were doing the same thing. They were saying the license plates didn't match the rental car registration even when they did. And the cars always seemed to have Colorado license plates."
An Enterprise spokesperson subsequently denied that this kind of incident had become commonplace. But a couple of months later, we spotlighted a CBS4 piece about marijuana and rental car operations at DIA. Sources told the station employees at such businesses were routinely being offered cannabis by people dropping off their cars before heading to the airport, with one adding that workers at the front end of the operation had taken to scouring vehicles to make sure no ganja had been left behind — because if the guys in charge of washing the cars found the stuff, they'd definitely keep it.
Apparently, they missed the nugs left in Moxon's rental car, and he's not happy about it. He told the station, "This was like someone leaving a loaded gun in the car for an eight-year-old to find."
Moreover, if he had been stopped by Missouri state troopers, he would almost certainly have been charged with a crime, even though he didn't have the slightest idea the marijuana was in the vehicle until he got back to Colorado.
By the way, Moxon isn't naming the rental car company, which gave him a full refund for his troubles — but he does want all firms of this type to institute policies to prevent something like this from happening to others in the future.
By the way, rental car agencies insist that if the do find marijuana, they throw it away. Make note, airport-area dumpster divers.
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