Brian Unbehaun's twelve-pound Iowa pot bust: Are Colorado drivers being profiled?

Categories: Marijuana

brian unbehaun mug shot cropped.jpg
Brian Unbehaun.
By passing Amendment 64, which allows adults to possess small amounts of marijuana, voters here cemented Colorado's reputation as a pot mecca. Note the prominence of the state's name in headlines about the arrest of Brighton's Brian Unbehaun, who's accused of transporting nearly twelve pounds of weed across Iowa. But the bust raises another question: Are drivers with Colorado plates being profiled when they're elsewhere in the country?

We've been hearing concerns about profiling based on Colorado license plates for the past few years -- and it doesn't take long to find online claims of such behavior. Here's one from an MTBR forum that was shared last April:

Just wanted to give everyone a heads up.

I had to drive through Illinois on I-80 this week and was pulled over for having Colorado plates. They had the dog out within 4 minutes. As far as I could tell when the dog circled the car twice it didn't do anything to indicate a hit, but they still searched the trunk. When I was in the cop car the cop kept asking me if I had any Medical Marijuana in the car, which I didn't but it was a rental so who knows what the last person had in it. Once they finished I was let go with a warning for going 6 miles over the speed limit.

I was pulled over again 10 minutes later. The cop immediately asked when was the last time I was pulled over? I told him I was just profiled as a drug runner 5 minutes ago and had the car searched and he immediately let me go.

So be careful driving through that state. There is a chance you will get profiled because of your Colorado plates.

Also I don't have a criminal record, any points on my license, or a medical marijuana card and my wife and dog were also in the car.

no pot license plate.jpg
Colorado isn't alone. Additional online items suggest that profiling of license plates from other pot-reforming states is taking place, too. As evidence, eyeball this post on The Weed Blog; it accuses police in Idaho, which has some of the toughest marijuana laws in the country, with zeroing in on cars from Montana, a state that allows medical marijuana:
From experience, they will lie to pull you over, then lie about smelling marijuana. Having a Montana licenses plate, will get you profiled as a possible marijuana card holder. Idaho also will not allow you to use the medical defense to defend yourself. Card or not, you are illegal to them and will be charged.
Which brings us to Unbehaun, who was pulled over in Dubuque, Iowa just shy of 12 p.m. on Saturday, February 16 -- and cops say he had 11.7 pounds of marijuana in his possession.

Not that Unbehaun's name is the first to appear in article headlines. KCRG-TV's banner reads, "Colorado Man Arrested in Dubuque with More Than 11 Pounds of Marijuana," while the Omaha World-Herald went with "Colorado man had marijuana in car, Dubuque police say."

Of the clips we found, only the Des Moines Register gave Colorado short shrift, labeling its piece "Police: Man had 12 pounds of marijuana in his car." But the state is mentioned in the first sentence.

It doesn't appear that Unbehaun is a longtime Colorado resident. His Facebook page lists him as living in Madison, Wisconsin, where he told police he was heading when he was stopped. And a personal website about his career as a singer-songwriter (it's several years out of date) lists him as hailing from Minnesota. Among the photos included is this one:

brian unbehaun singing.jpg
The caption that accompanies the shot reads, "Brian sure looks happy -- wonder if it has anything to do with German beer?"

If so, he presumably would have gotten less attention from Iowa authorities, and reporters, than he did as a result of his alleged payload this past weekend.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Amendment 64 is now law: Governor John Hickenlooper quietly signs measure."

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71 comments
CarlUnbehaun
CarlUnbehaun

When stopped, Brian was told that it was because of he was from Colorado and because of his tinted windows (which are factory tint).  He's our 33-year-old son who graduated from college in Wisconsin last May (Civil Engineering) and moved to Brighton.  Brian is also a talented singer-songwriter.  He reported to me that the young officer was very disrespectful.  As a public servant, I always treat my customers with respect even if I am not impressed by their behavior or attitude.  Stopping Brian for being from Colorado is tantamount to racial profiling.  It would be my hope that a good attorney from Colorado will round up Brian and others and file a class action suit against the State of Iowa for this practice.  By the way, I wish Brian hadn't done what he did, but I still support him 100% and appreciate all of your comments and support.  That said, it is truly time to decriminalize a drug that causes much less harm than alcohol and nicotine.

Stephan Reuchlein
Stephan Reuchlein

Never consent to any vehicle search, make them get a warrant.

Melissa Taylor
Melissa Taylor

I can tell you for a fact that Colorado drivers have been profiled long before 64 passed. I went down to South Padre Island with my 55 year old mother and 10 year old son for spring break last year. On my way back I was "detained" by border patrol for HOURS while they tore my car apart looking for drugs. I was offended and furious for the rest of the drive home, considering not at any time did I enter or attempt to enter Mexico. Our rights are violated everyday, its just that nobody is willing to stand up for what is right.

David Spohn
David Spohn

Right on Nick! Trey, you need to go live in Oklahoma !

David Spohn
David Spohn

Bush & OBlah Blah and all the other crooks made profiling LEGAL ! Patriot act !!

Nick Najdowski
Nick Najdowski

Translation: Are you a victim? Please mope. Also: Trey Woolums you sound like a Nazi.

Dave Adams
Dave Adams

Don't forget profiling is illegal! Do you rememeber the many lawsuits Denver County lost to profiling suspects?

Stephen At Half Aspen
Stephen At Half Aspen

It's just weed. Are we so seriously f'd up that we argue (and arrest) over weed??? THAT'S what amazes me. Folks, there's a shitload of far more important matters at hand. After those are shoved up your ass by Uncle Sam, you'll wish you had a joint to smoke.

Jon Parniawski
Jon Parniawski

What we need to do here in CO is establish our own border patrol for making sure weed doesn't wander out of the state...it would create lots of jobs. People are going to swarm when the "open" shops start selling to the general public and we can use lots more eyes-on to be sure we are doing things correctly.

Rich Carollo
Rich Carollo

Yes get another dangerous pot user off the streets Troy. Then we can all listen to Marshall Tucker, drink and pop some pills and laugh and laugh.......

Trey Woolums
Trey Woolums

I hope he gets federal time for this bust and I hope the feds come and raid Colorado constantly everywhere its obvious they have large amounts of pot. The raids won't happen under Obama and the dems but hopefully in 4 years we will be rid of them.

RevRayGreen
RevRayGreen

MEDICAL OUTLAWS of Iowa POWERBOWL #14 2/23/13...CONFESSIONS Rev remembers when there was a time he was consumed with reefer sadness age 14 prior to proper introduction.... http://youtu.be/7kRb0JPIGGg

quikslvr8807
quikslvr8807

Was charged for a felony in tx for less than a gram of wax

quikslvr8807
quikslvr8807

Was charged for a felony in tx for less than a gram of wax

quikslvr8807
quikslvr8807

Was charged for a felony in tx for less than a gram of wax

quikslvr8807
quikslvr8807

Was charged for a felony in tx for less than a gram of wax

quikslvr8807
quikslvr8807

Was charged for a felony in tx for less than a gram of wax

quikslvr8807
quikslvr8807

Got pulled over going home to tx for niece's baptism. Made it there but on the way back I was stopped by a state trooper for going 5 over. 20 minutes later the drug dog was there and they found less than a gram of wax and I was charged with a felony. I ha ve a medicinal marijuana license in Colorado

Sebastian Rooks
Sebastian Rooks

Awww...poor wittle Chris Festus can't leave the state without possibly being profiled by inbred hick highway patrol officers in the middle of nowhere, Kansas? How does the shoe fit, you despicable pile of horse dung? Minorities have been dealing with this type of treatment since....well...almost as long as there have been automobiles. I guess now that overprivileged white douchebags in the burbs are no longer immune to overzealous out-of-state law enforcement whilst traveling about, such unwarranted stops and/or searches are considered a "moral travesty," even though they remained indifferent to or even justified racial profiling. Cry me a fucking river!

Chris Estus
Chris Estus

This is what I am worried about. I used to cruise the country not really worring about what I was carrying because it was never a lot. Now any time I leave the state my plates say hey this guy may have weed. Thanks A64 and all the idiots that voted for it, you reap what you sow enjoy!

CloudGang
CloudGang

Police do not prevent crime. Police are responders, Whats Fascinating is how unaware society is to the actual police state we are in. 

Fuck The Police Fuck Fuck The Police

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

Colorado plates are major heat outside the state . Anyone stupid enough not to realize this, 

 'almost' deserves to get popped .

cornfed
cornfed

I was born 20 mins from dubuque. If your ever trying to get through that area, just head north around dubuque. The cops in that city and harsh on anyone with out of state plates.

John Marquand
John Marquand

I was profiled twice last summer--BEFORE legalization--once in Kansas, once in Mo.--returning from my Moms funeral, 2 Ks Hiway Patrolmen and one Geary Co sheriff followed me for forty miles on I-70,sometimes running beside me in the left lane (checking me out),pulling ahead, slowing down so I had to pass them...they never did stop me...the Mo. incident was stopped at 1 a.m. and held in the patrol persons car for nearly an hour--she demanded I turn over the drugs--threatened to bring search dogs...I put in an official complaint & they said they'd investigate the stop & follow up with me...I never heard back...

Covana
Covana

@Stephan Reuchlein There has never been such a thing as a warent to search a car Stephan....

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Melissa Taylor We've been hearing a lot of anecdotes like this one, Melissa. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Covana
Covana

@Jon Parniawski Why do we care what people leave Colorado with? It will just force border states to legalize because there will not be enough police force to handle it.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@quikslvr8807 There's definitely a huge disparity in laws from state to state. Thanks for the post, quikslvr8807.

Monkey
Monkey

@Gordon Cresswell True, but efforts have more than doubled in the last few years, according to Utah police/sheriffs. They call it a stop and sniff, but they used to smell the weed. Now, they just claim to smell it, so they can look for extracts and edibles, which has considerable less aroma and steeper penalties in some states.

searching4pow
searching4pow

CHRIS --  Reap what we sow ?? Come on, Guess you are one of these people (idiots) that think the war on drugs is working..

CoreyDonahue
CoreyDonahue

@Chris Estus everyone read what A64 would do.  No idiots voted for it it was a honest campagin to regulate marijuana like alcohol.  Marijuana is 100% legal every where in Colorado that´s what we voted for and if we need to cahange anything no worries t´s not like it´s in the constitution.  Oh, shit, it is? 

searching4pow
searching4pow

Actuallt try this..... GO BACK TO TEXAS !!!!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Nicholas Medina  ... with a Gun rack and a Bu$h - Cheney bumper sticker.


CarlUnbehaun
CarlUnbehaun

@Juan_Leg I see your point of view, Juan, and I certainly wish my son had used more sense.  But it's an awful feeling knowing your kid is in jail.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@John Marquand ... you look like a druggie / criminal.

searching4pow
searching4pow

DONKEY HOTAY IS A TROLL WITH TOO MUCH TIME !!!!!!

searching4pow
searching4pow

DONKEY HOTAY IS A TROLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TROLL GO BACK TO MOMMAS BASEMENT >>

searching4pow
searching4pow

*******************DONKEY HOTAY IS A TROLL*******************************

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