We've been hearing more about marijuana profiling -- law enforcers in other states targeting cars with Colorado license plates due to the pot laws here. One of our writers was stopped and searched twice in one trip.
Anecdotal evidence (including a report about a so-called Colorado drug pipeline) suggests that such activities are taking place in Nebraska. And now, a local man reveals that he and his three kids were detained for nearly two hours in what struck him as an example of profiling.
The November passage of Amendment 64, which allows Colorado adults 21 and over to use and possess small amounts of marijuana, appears to have inspired an escalation of profiling. But readers have shared similar stories with us that predate the election. Indeed, the medical marijuana industry boom that took place here in 2009-2010 appears to be the genesis of the tactic.
As evidence, consider that the experiences of the Colorado father who contacted us after the publication of recent marijuana profiling reports took place in April of last year.
According to the dad, corresponding via e-mail, he was visiting relatives in the Cornhusker state for Easter, his vehicle piled with suitcases and Easter baskets, when "I was pulled over, with my three children in Douglas County, Nebraska, by K9 units." At the time, his kids were two, twelve and fourteen years of age.
What had he been doing wrong? "My 'offense' was driving 67 in a 65 [zone], two miles per hour over the limit," he writes.
This pretext recalls ones used as an excuse to stop a truck driven by Westword contributor Britt Chester. In Kansas, he was nabbed for driving in the left-hand lane when not passing another vehicle. In Tennessee, his offense was traveling at 75 miles per hour in a seventy zone.
At first, the dad wasn't panicked. "It seemed like it would be just a normal 'slow-down' type of traffic stop," he assumed. But instead, "I was detained with my children on the side of I-80 for nearly two hours while my vehicle was searched."
The troopers' effort wasn't a superficial one. "Not only did they pull every single thing out of the car, they went through my children's suitcases, mine, etc."
Deputy Jason Mayo likens tracking down illegal pot to finding a needle in a haystack.
As this was going on, the dad says he asked one of the officers "why they were wasting so much energy and effort on me."
"When we see a nice vehicle with Colorado tags, it instantly makes us start watching you," he quotes the trooper as saying. "And then we noticed how young you looked, which was another red flag. You were ultimately speeding, which is why you were stopped, and those circumstantial facts are why we obtained permission from you to search."
The reference to physical appearance also jibes with other profiling tales we've been told. For instance, Westword writer Chester is young, bearded and wears his hair long.
In the end, the police canines didn't find any drugs -- but they did locate something else of interest. "The officers also found it keen to open up a box of Milk Bones I had in the back seat for my own dogs, and gave their K9 officer a treat," the dad says.
After this ordeal was finally over, the father says he talked to "several Omaha city cops" about what happened, and they "indicated that when they have a slow night or they are training new officers, Colorado tags are almost always an instant, usually drug-related ticket of some sort."
This anecdote suggests that officers in Nebraska enjoy it when Coloradans cross the state line. But the dad isn't convinced. In his words, "I have no doubt if they couldn't be subjected to lawsuits for profiling, they would openly tell people in Colorado to stay out."
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Here's the aforementioned "drug pipeline" report from TV 10/11, sister channels based in Lincoln and Grand Island, Nebraska.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana profiling: Coloradans should ditch weed before state line, says Kansas attorney."