Don't Fall for It, Coloradans. Kansas Freeway Patrol Will Nonetheless Pull You Over

After over 450 miles of zero turns or exit ramps on my approach from Denver to Fort Riley, Kansas, geology ceased to exist. This dusty flatland had nothing however farms, gasoline stations and the occasional billboard telling me to just accept Jesus or Rock Chalk, Jayhawk.

At the least hell has issues to have a look at.

There are many nice folks in Kansas, and the state has a rightful declare to birthing basketball as we all know it. That alone makes it value respecting. However as a Coloradan who enjoys just a few puffs every so often, Kansas has at all times felt unwelcoming.

Proper when the solo journey was about to finish, I pulled out a hash pen. I used to be about to spend two nights with a childhood pal on an Military base earlier than he deployed to the Korean demilitarized zone for just a few years. A bit of THC was wanted to assuage my nerves, aching again and abdomen, which was in retailer for nothing however Wendy’s and Pure Mild for the following 84 hours.

Then the lights got here on behind me. Simply 4 miles from my vacation spot, Kansas Freeway Patrol was about to drag me over.

This was 2017. Colorado was certainly one of a small variety of states to have legalized leisure marijuana, and the remainder of the nation wasn’t yep hip to hash pens. At worst, most individuals thought they had been nicotine vapes. However I would heard the tales of license-plate profiling in states surrounding Colorado within the wake of pot’s legalization, with Kansas essentially the most infamous.

We have written about many sketchy legislation enforcement stops for marijuana prior to now, however Kansas legislation enforcement’s hate for the plant extends to hemp, too. In 2018, that state’s liquor fee banned New Belgium Brewing from promoting its Hemporer pale ale, a beer made with hemp seeds, inside Kansas regardless of the beer containing no THC, CBD or every other cannabinoid. In 2019, two brothers had been charged with 4 drug trafficking felonies for transporting Colorado hemp throughout Kansas in 2017.

Hashish is not simply unlawful within the state of Kansas. It is despised.

I slid my hash pen into the facet door pocket, and stored calm. I by no means really took successful; my mouth was hydrated and my eyes had been clear. Certainly I would be on my approach quickly, proper?

Improper. Nonetheless in my twenties, I did not notice that rental automobiles are catnip for cops. The officer needed to know why I used to be in a single. How did my automotive break down in Denver? The place was I going? How lengthy would I be there? The place was my pal being deployed to? What was his rank? I used to be making an attempt to recollect my pal’s zodiac register preparation for an additional spherical of probing when he advised me to “cease speaking and sit tight, Mr. Denver” and walked again to his automotive. I heard some indecipherable cop discuss from the walkie-talkie on his vest, however the phrase “search” was undoubtedly uttered.


After making an attempt to not shit myself in a Hyundai Sonata for what felt like 45 minutes, the tall, doughy officer got here again and stated he had an “precise emergency to take care of,” and drove away after handing me an incomplete ticket, which I promised to pay and promptly threw away on the subsequent gasoline station.

The “precise emergency” line at all times baffled me, although. This strolling yam was going to try to search my automotive for going eight miles over the velocity restrict, and he’d simply admitted that I posed no menace. Did I seem like an asshole with a light beard and backwards hat? Completely, however that is not a searchable offense. Cops do not care about that, although. When most of us are pulled over in Kansas, we’re in open water struggling to remain afloat.

A federal decide lastly referred to as out the Kansas State Freeway Patrol for its roadside fuckery final month, when U.S. District Choose Kathryn Vratil castigated native legislation enforcement for a standard tactic used to detain motorists with out-of-state plates lengthy sufficient to seek out causes to look their autos.

Within the maneuver, labeled the “Kansas Two-Step,” officers would end the preliminary visitors cease, situation a ticket or warning, after which stroll away — after which cease, flip round and ask a query or discuss extra to the driving force. By answering, the motorists technically gave the patrol troopers leeway for a consensual dialog, permitting them extra time to seek out grounds for a car search.

Directions for the Kansas Two-Step are included within the Kansas State Freeway Patrol’s coaching handbook, in response to lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three drivers and two passengers touring from Colorado. The three separate occurrences named within the lawsuit passed off in 2017, 2018 and 2019, however they had been hardly the one situations. Vratil even scolded the patrol for “waging battle” on out-of-state drivers heading by way of Kansas on Interstate 70, notably these with license plates from states that had legalized marijuana.

“The battle is mainly a query of numbers: cease sufficient automobiles, and also you’re certain to find medicine. And what’s the hurt if just a few constitutional rights are trampled alongside the best way?” the decide wrote in her choice.

The Kansas ACLU’s authorized director referred to as Vratil’s choice a “large win,” and Vratil warned that she is ready to impose adjustments within the patrol’s observe and enlist an auditor to observe the division for 4 years or extra, if want be.

Does that imply I will really feel protected driving by way of Kansas with Colorado plates on my automotive? Permit me to cite E-40: Nope.

Cops needn’t see one thing in a coaching handbook to know the place their bread is buttered. In accordance with ACLU attorneys, drivers from different states accounted for 96 % of all reported civil forfeitures by State Freeway Patrol in 2018 and 2019. In Colorado, the Morrison Chief of Police resigned beneath stress after her officers weren’t bringing in sufficient visitors ticket income.

If a 3rd step is required in Kansas for roadside searches, then will probably be discovered quickly, if it hasn’t been already. However within the meantime, driving by way of that state with a Colorado license plate is like waving a purple flag.