SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - Idaho State Police began an investigation on Tuesday into a Colorado man’s claims that he was illegally searched and detained for suspected marijuana possession because his truck had license plates from a state that permits recreational pot use.
Darien Roseen filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Boise last week claiming civil rights violations based on profiling by Idaho police because his truck carried Colorado plates and his driver’s license was from Washington state.
Washington state and Colorado allow recreational marijuana use, but the drug is an illegal narcotic under federal law.
Roseen was pulled over by a state trooper in January 2013 in Payette County in southwest Idaho on the grounds that he failed to signal a turn into a rest area, according to legal documents.
Roseen said the trooper accused him of turning off the roadway to avoid him, questioned why Roseen’s eyes appeared glassy and asked when he had last used marijuana, court records showed.
Roseen eventually allowed a casual examination of his truck by the trooper, who claimed it smelled of marijuana. An ensuing fuller search yielded no illegal substances, and Roseen said profiling was behind the search and his temporary detention at an Idaho sheriff’s office.
He has claimed this was an unreasonable search and seizure prohibited by the U.S. constitution and is seeking monetary and punitive damages “in amounts that will deter similar wrongful conduct” in the future, according to the lawsuit.
Idaho State Police declined to comment on the litigation but said the allegations had triggered an internal investigation.
“We would like to assure the citizens of Idaho and the visitors to our state that the Idaho State Police holds all of its employees to a high standard which includes following the constitution of the United States and the laws and constitution of the state of Idaho,” agency spokeswoman Teresa Baker said in a statement.
In a largely symbolic gesture, Idaho’s Republican-led legislature in 2013 approved a resolution against allowing marijuana for even medical use in the state.
Editing by Cynthia Johnston