How neighboring states approach “marijuana interdiction” is an interesting issue. Nebraska and Oklahoma sued Colorado unsuccessfully over the legalization issue, and apparently the police in Kansas simply decided to stop and search Colorado residents who happen to drive though Kansas. Now the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has held that police officers cannot stop and search vehicles belonging to out-of-state motorists simply because of where they are registered, including states where marijuana use is legal.
By a 2-1 vote, the Court said two Kansas Highway Patrol officers violated the constitutional rights of Colorado motorist Peter Vasquez in December 2011 by pulling him over and searching his car after he had been driving alone at night on Interstate 70.
The officers relied heavily on Vasquez’s residency to justify the search, which uncovered nothing illegal, saying Colorado was a known “drug source” where marijuana is legal.
The Court said that would justify searching motorists from the 25 U.S. states that permit marijuana use for medical purposes, and the four states, including Colorado, plus Washington, D.C., where recreational use is allowed.
“It is time to abandon the pretense that state citizenship is a permissible basis upon which to justify the detention and search of out-of-state motorists, and time to stop the practice of detention of motorists for nothing more than an out-of-state license plate,” Circuit Judge Carlos Lucero wrote.
“Absent a demonstrated extraordinary circumstance, the continued use of state residency as a justification for the fact of or continuation of a stop is impermissible,” he added.
You can access the ruling at this link.