Interstate Cannabis at the Colorado/Nebraska Border

Nebraska Interstate Drug Defense Attorney Daniel Stockmann discusses his work defending clients from drug-related charges, especially those who drive in to Nebraska from Colorado (where weed was legalized in 2012), as law enforcement presence has increased resulting in rising arrests for felony distribution and sale of marijuana.

Drivers with out-of-state license plates driving along Nebraska Interstate 80 have become easy targets for law enforcement. With the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, law enforcement agencies have zoned in along the border to conduct traffic stops that might result in drug busts and marijuana arrests. Even minor traffic violations such as a broken tail light or running a traffic stop can trigger police officers to stop a vehicle and conduct a search.

To learn more about this pressing issue, read this engrossing discussion between radio host Dave Inman and Daniel Stockmann, a drug defense attorney from the Nebraska Interstate Drug Defense.

Interstate Cannabis at the Colorado/Nebraska Border

Chronicling the latest Cannabis industry news and headlines. Welcome to the State of Cannabis. Bringing you fact based news, views and keeping listeners on the pulse of what’s happening in the industry today. Advocates and analysts will join us to discuss the ongoing path to reform and legislation. Now, the State of Cannabis, with your host Dave Inman.

Dave: Welcome to the State of Cannabis folks, I’m your host, Dave Inman. With us tonight, we have Daniel Stockmann from the Nebraska Interstate Drug Defense. Daniel, welcome.

Daniel: Thank you.

Dave: Nebraska, you know, it’s a border state for what we would call you know our typical, either recreational or medical marijuana, and we do see some troubles generally at the borders, however, it sounds like Nebraska might have had a few more incurrences than others. Tell me what you’re experiencing there in your home state.

Daniel: We are experiencing quite a bit of increase in enforcement along the interstate. Interstate 80 is the interstate that travels east to west through Nebraska, connects with interstate 76, which is in the panhandle of Western Nebraska, which obviously borders Colorado. In the last year or so, we have seen quite an uptake in enforcement along the interstate of law enforcement positioning their enforcement vehicles along the interstate looking for vehicles with out-of-state of plates. Traveling to the east presumably, according to law enforcement anyway, from Colorado and then they’re being pulled over or even detained while law enforcement searches to determine whether or not the vehicles contains any Marijuana (what Nebraska would consider to be contraband) from Colorado.

Dave: So, let me ask you this. So based simply on having a license plate that doesn’t say Nebraska, is that constituting like a probable cause?

Daniel: The officers know what they are doing as far as how to conduct a traffic stop. They are not pulling them over and stating the reason for the traffic stop was out-of-state plates, they’ll follow the vehicle and wait for the vehicle to commit a traffic offense. Our constitution says you can’t pull over a car randomly, or just because it has out-of-state plates. You have to wait for the vehicle to commit a traffic offense. What they’ll typically do is wait for the vehicle to commit some sort of traffic offense; whether it be speeding, not using a turn signal, following too close (which is a favorite one of law enforcement), crossing over the divider line or driving on the shoulder. You know there are innumerable number of traffic offenses that pretty much everybody commits on a regular basis and law enforcement just waits until the vehicle commits that offense and then conducts a traffic stop.

Dave: Now are the law enforcement are they doing, like you know, the random open air dog searches or are they doing anything to just kinda steer the line of questioning to be able to search the vehicle?

Daniel: What they will typically do, once they pull the vehicle over, what the law allows for them to do is conduct an inquiry that is related to the reason for the traffic stops. In other words, If you pull somebody over for speeding or not using their turn signal; ask for license, insurance, registration, run the driver’s name, maybe even the passenger’s name (for warrants), they would call it to see if the person has a warrant out for arrest, and they also run them for criminal history (to see what sort of criminal history the individual may have) but that’s what they’re supposed to do during the course of the traffic stop are those basic inquiries. What they try to do during the course of the inquiry is conduct conversations with the driver and/or the passenger about travel plans and itinerary and things of that nature, in an effort to try to, what law enforcement calls indicators of criminal activity. That in their (law enforcement) opinion justifies detaining the individual beyond the scope of the original traffic stop. Once they get to that threshold, in their mind, then typically what they would do is take the canine unit or a drug dog and do the open air sniff around the car, have the dog alert on the car. Then once the dog alerts them, it’s their position that they have probable cause now to do a full blown search of the vehicle.

Dave: And obviously at that time if you’ve come back from Colorado, you’re carrying your prescription, you know, then you’re gonna be going to, I would presume, jail.

Daniel: Most likely, it depends on if you are a medical patient and of you have or you’re carrying your prescription, whether you go to jail or not. In Nebraska it depends almost exclusively on how you choose to take your medicine. Nebraska has decriminalized user amounts of marijuana of the flower variety, anyway, so that less than an ounce of marijuana is an infraction with only a $300 fine. It’s a non jailable offense, so if an individual is found with it, the officer writes a citation and sends them on their way. But with the advent of all the different varieties of ingestion with hash oil and edibles and those types of things, Nebraska classifies hash or concentrated marijuana as a scheduled one controlled substance which means we treat it the same as cocaine or methamphetamine or heroin. It’s a class four felony, it carries anywhere from zero to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine. So if you choose to take your medicine in the hash variety, you’re gonna go to jail. You’re gonna get booked, taken to the jail in whatever county you have to be pulled over in. Your car’s gonna get impounded. You’re gonna have to wait until a judge sets a bond on you before you can post bond and be released. And then you’ll have to face the felony charge(s).

Dave: So you know, I’m in the Southwest, I’m in Arizona, and we obviously have our medical law, but we also are plagued with quite outdated, quite archaic cannabis laws. We recently (in about the last year, year and a half) finally have what seem to have overcome the difference in definition of dried flower versus a constant, concentrated cannabis, but obviously there’s a ton of backlash that’s constantly occurring these interpretations, that county and attorneys think, creates some kind of a loophole for what, clearly the public has indicated that they want to see happen. So I mean obviously in Nebraska, you have decriminalization, that doesn’t mean that hash should still be lumped into that same scenario. I mean obviously, it’s still cannabis regardless of the preparation that has occurred on it. You guys have something that’s kind of unique going on versus some of the other border states. Nebraska is actually suing Colorado right now because of their current legalization. What is your take on that?

Daniel: Dave, Nebraska has filed a lawsuit along with Oklahoma against Colorado. It’s one of those rare instances where our United States supreme court has jurisdiction over the case and that’s where the lawsuit has been filed. Nebraska is essentially claiming that because marijuana possession is still illegal, federally speaking that it’s state law for recreational marijuana is in violation of the federal law and they are asking the US supreme court to declare it as such.

Dave: So basically, they’re hoping for the preeminence of federal law over state law which sounds like life and liberty to me right there. You know we gotta take a quick commercial break. When we get back Daniel Stockmann with the Nebraska Interstate Drug Defense. We’ll be right back with you folks.

More State of Cannabis on cannabisradio.com when we return.

(Commercials)

Chronicling the latest Cannabis industry news and headlines, welcome back to the State of Cannabis, only on cannabisradio.com, once again, here’s Dave Inman.

Dave: Welcome back to the State of Cannabis.I’m your host, Dave Inman. With us tonight, we have Daniel Stockmann, attorney for the Nebraska Interstate Drug Defense. Daniel, welcome. We were just discussing the current law Nebraska and Oklahoma have regarding Colorado’s recreational law. I’m sure you have a ton more points that you’d like to touch on with that as well.

Daniel: You know what’s interesting about the lawsuit, clearly the voters of Colorado decided that’s what they wanted to do in their state was allow for recreational marijuana to be legal. Nebraska, in its history and tradition has long been a proud and vocal supporter of state’s rights. On every issue particularly on things like gay marriage. Nebraska has been saying that, we should leave it up to the states, let the states decide and in Nebraska our state decided that it should be a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and that the federal government shouldn’t be allowed to tell what to do. It should be left up to the individual states. However, when it becomes something that they disagree with, then the state’s rights theory kinda gets thrown out the window. And now they want the federal government to intervene.

Dave: It’s kinda like the pot calling the kettle black. I’d like to just toss a word out there, I’m sure you have a couple of finer points to hit on with it. Whiteclay, Nebraska, speaking of the last topic that we had, it seems to really, so many of these states that they’ll want these states rights, but they’ll want, they’ll wanna have, you know, the government come in when they can’t handle their own decisions. But what’s going on in Whiteclay, Nebraska?

Daniel: Well, let me give you a little info about what Whiteclay, Nebraska. Whiteclay, Nebraska is the town of about ten or fifteen people. It is on the border of South Dakota. Across the border into South Dakota, is the Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Whiteclay, Nebraska is about two miles or so from the reservation, but in Nebraska versus South Dakota and as its federal law there’s no alcohol allowed on the Indian Reservation. On the Pine Ridge Reservation, alcohol is not, is prohibited. Whiteclay, Nebraska population ten or twelve people (at last count in 2013) sold nearly three and a half million twelve ounce cans of beers. Highest per capita beer or alcohol consumption or sales in the country. And almost all of that alcohol is being sold to the Native Americans who cross into Nebraska from South Dakota, purchased what is illegal on the reservation, in Nebraska and either consume it in Nebraska, or try to bring it back on to the reservation. The tribal elders of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation have been begging the State of Nebraska to clamp down on alcohol sales in Whiteclay because of the devastating effects that it’s having on the population of the Indian Reservation and the state of Nebraska and its Governor, or former Governor anyway, have simply said basically, “What do you want us to do? They are not breaking the law. We can’t do anything about it.”, and it’s had devastating effects on the population of the reservation. I’m reading an article right now where the numbers that I’m quoting to you are from 2013. It’s 3.6 million 12 ounce cans of beer in 2013. And that actually is a decrease of 7.8% from 2012. So…

Dave: Oh my God!

Daniel: ..The consumption is going down but it went it down almost 8% and it’s still over 3 and a half million cans of beer in one year.

Dave: It’s mind boggling.You know, when you can have so many varying degrees of absurdity that our are states. And to highlight that Nebraska as you’d said is a decriminalized state. So if you have flower, it’s a $300 ticket, non jailable but if you have hash, you’re going to jail.

Daniel: Yes.

Dave: And if you are on a border and you just happen to be selling alcohol, can you sell as much of it as you want going into a state that will not allow it? It’s just incredibly mind boggling that these dualities can occur in a modern society without anybody realizing the detriment both ends have. You know, obviously if we have a plant that hasn’t killed anybody on record, when I mean on record, due to overdose. People die from stupidity all the time, but they don’t die due to overdose, they may have terrible trip, they may have to curl up in a ball for a few hours, but they’re gonna wake up and say, “Damn, I really shouldn’t take so much, never again”, however with alcohol there is a limit that you can take and then eventually it’s gonna kill you. You know, it’s mind boggling that we haven’t pushed the envelope any further. We’re gonna be taking a commercial break here in a couple of minutes. But I wanna get your thoughts on something, obviously 2016, we have a lot of different initiatives across the country. Does Nebraska have anything currently in the works regarding their legalization, medical or further decriminalization?

Daniel: They are legislatures that actually have a bill right now, our legislature is in session right now. There is a medical bill that’s made it through a couple rounds of voting, so far it is a pretty limited medical bill, in so far as it’s not going to allow for medical dispensaries to pop up. It’s gonna be administered through the Department of Health and Human Services and the bill is actually delineated specific ailments or illnesses that would allow for the prescription. So it’s a little bit surprising that Nebraska is actually progressive enough to get this close at least to an abbreviated version of a medical bill, but it’s close.

Dave: It’s interesting when you reflect and you look at the legislature in various states and they can be just absolute opponents and you know you’ve been here in Arizona, like I’ve mentioned, we have a very, very strict medical law, we have potentially, we’re gonna have tax and regulate coming 2016, but when you really look at what the populous has to say, I mean, what I’ll say is currently, there is, right now, from the Secretary’s state office on whether or not we should legalize and tax recreational marijuana. And it’s been out for about three days and currently it’s 97% yes. You know it’s the populous and perhaps maybe it’s the social media that’s been able to push, this more forward thinking for a lot of states. I mean we are looking at Florida obviously came close to getting their constitutional amendment or their bill passed. We have seen a lot of states, even Alabama, that are forging forward with various types of medical laws as well. We need to take a quick commercial break. When we get back, we have Attorney Daniel Stockmann with the Nebraska Interstate Drug Defense. We’ll be right back with you folks.

More State of Cannabis on cannabisradio.com when we return.

(Commercials)

Chronicling the latest Cannabis industry news and headlines, welcome back to the State of Cannabis, only on cannabisradio.com. Once again, here’s Dave Inman.

Dave: Welcome to the State of Cannabis. I’m your host, Dave Inman.With us tonight, we have Daniel Stockmann, attorney with the Nebraska Interstate Drug Defense. Daniel, welcome back to the show. So we were just talking about a couple of different things, just some atrocities, you know Whiteclay, boggles the mind, you know, obviously the fact that Nebraska and Oklahoma are actually suing Colorado for their current law regarding cannabis legalization. You know, obviously there’s been a big influx because there’s cannabis around I’m sure so you have a lot more border states that are gonna see stuff coming out, people wanna you know take their worries with them, when they’re out traveling of course, the biggest gaping factor with the laws surrounding you right now.

Daniel: I think the biggest factor that I have seen in the last year is really just been the increase investigation, and interdiction by law enforcement. It’s really getting to a point now, and just to give you some background info, in the last year alone; I have talked to on the phone over 25 people over 20 different states who were traveling through Nebraska on the interstate heading east presumably according to law enforcement coming from Colorado. They were pulled over on the interstate, detained and searched, by law enforcement. Some people are ending up with charges, other people simply are just getting pulled over, detained and forced to spend an hour or two on the side of the road while law enforcement searches through all their baggage. Anecdotal stories from people who have said they have been pulled over multiple times, as they’ve traveled across Nebraska. I spoke with a mom from Connecticut whose 19-year-old son was in Colorado this past March for Spring break with a couple of his buddies and they were driving back east and they got pulled over in the very first county that you can as they enter into Nebraska. They had user amounts of hash on them so they all got booked for class four felonies and got their car impounded. They posted bond, got out of jail, got their car out of the impound lot and proceeded to drive back home only to be pulled over two more times as they traveled through Nebraska. They weren’t arrested at that point but they were pulled over a total of three times as they traveled east across Nebraska.

Dave: And that was on the same trip?

Daniel: Same trip, yes.

Dave: Jesus.

Daniel: Three 19-year-old white males in a car, heading east. Law enforcement presumes that they have contraband from Colorado. You know we were talking about the lawsuit earlier and it’s my opinion, and it’s the opinion of a lot of criminal defense attorneys, in Nebraska that law enforcement is making a point to enforce this and doing this interstate interdiction type stuff because they are being told they need to do it to support the lawsuit, they need to show that this is a problem in Nebraska and that it’s affecting law enforcement and the counties and the court you know and the criminal justice system and they can’t do it if they don’t strictly enforce it.

Dave: So just like the movement from alcohol prohibition to cannabis prohibition. We had all these prohibitionist police officers that they needed to keep their jobs. That they needed to be able to have some highlight that says, “Hey look at what we did here!”. And prohibition is live and well and it’s incredible that there’s so many people that you’ll bump into, you know, just on a day to day basis that don’t realize that cannabis is a schedule one narcotic and it’s federally mandated. It’s kept all of our medical testing at bay because of these limitations that it has. It’s just devastating what happens to families over something as simple, benign, non toxic, and shows so many potential benefits to not only to the body, the mind, and perhaps even society.

Daniel: Think about it from the point of view of taxpayers too, Dave. We’re talking about small borough counties in Nebraska that don’t have very big budgets. Few of these sheriffs are bankrupting their counties because they won’t stop this interdiction enforcement and they’re jailing people and prosecuting people and their local county doesn’t have the budget to support the prosecution.Their jails aren’t big enough, the evidence rooms aren’t big enough, they don’t have enough lawyers, they don’t have enough prosecutors, they’re overloading the court system costing the county hundreds of thousands of dollars that they’re supposed to be using for the rest of the county not for the uptake in law enforcement increase in criminal justice budget because these sheriffs won’t stop enforcing it.

Dave: Sounds like a wonderfully efficacious way to spend their hard earned tax dollars.

Daniel: Exactly.

Dave: Daniel, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show. You know, it’s again incredible the dualities that occur in our existence here. And thank you for highlighting that, really you know driving home for some of the more fortunate, obviously Colorado, Washington, the medical states that don’t realize that these types of things actually exist still to this day. And to the degree in which, Nebraska is obviously experiencing and thank you for being a champion and standing up to the people’s rights and helping, you know, untangle this mess that laws bestowed upon us. Daniel, thank you. We’ll have to get you on the show again one of these days soon. Another installment of the State of Cannabis again, Daniel Stockmann, Nebraska Interstate Drug Defense and I’m Dave Inman. Have a wonderful night folks.

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