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The Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver was a great experience for many. When it ended, Texas Moms United Trish Taylor and Margarita McAuliffe drove back to Austin and San Antonio. After spending a night in Taos, NM, they crossed the Texas state line at around 10 or 11 p .m. Here is their story as told by Margarita McAuliffe:
Full disclosure: the speed limit was 75 mph, and I was driving 82 mph. Mea culpa. I am never surprised to see law enforcement lights flashing behind me, even when I’ve done nothing wrong, so I wasn’t surprised this time either. But this was one of the strangest stops I’d ever experienced.
The sheriff’s deputy appeared at the passenger-side window, rather than the driver’s side. Maybe they do things differently in north Texas. From that side he asked for my driver’s license and insurance card. I found the license immediately, but had to empty out my purse, looking for the insurance card. Trish suggested that maybe it was with the rental papers, at which point the sheriff’s deputy asked, “Is this a rental?” I guess that meant something to him. He then told me to get out of the car and said he was just going to give me a warning. Then he had me walk back to his patrol car with him. He got in the driver’s side and told me to get in the passenger’s seat. I commented on how strange that felt to me, but did as I was told.
He then proceeded to question me. Where were we coming from? Denver and Taos. What were we doing there? I was working and we had both attended a conference. Which conference? The Drug Policy Reform Conference. Oooooh, what’s that about? Okay, he’d asked for it: It was 1,000 people from around the world, gathered together to work for drug policy reform. We want people, including law enforcement officers, to stop being harmed by the war on drugs and our failed drug policies. Did he know about LEAP—Law Enforcement Against Prohibition? No, so I educated him about that organization. We want drugs legalized, controlled and regulated by the government, as alcohol is. We want to take drugs away from the cartels and put them out of business. We want kids getting drugs on the street and in schools to end.
When I mentioned the cartels, the deputy told me the highway we were on was a major trafficking route. Used to be just heavy loads, but now they were getting small quantities. Just that day they’d gotten some butter and some lotion. So, he asked if we wanted to bring “it” to Texas? I said that I’d like to see prohibition ended throughout the country; Chicago’s become what it was during Al Capone’s time with the head of the Sinaloa Cartel having made that his U.S. headquarters. He seemed surprised to learn that.
Then he got serious.
“So, if I search your car am I going to find anything illegal in there?”
I thought about the medibles, oils, and other products legal in Colorado and said, No. And your friend? No, nothing. Are you sure? Yeah, we’re both broke. OK, he told me, I’m just going to give you a warning. You can go.
No paperwork, no record of the stop.
We were lucky. What if we hadn’t been two grandma-aged white women, but people of color? Twenty-somethings? It might not have gone so well. We didn’t have any contraband, but we could’ve been held up for hours, rather than minutes. And what if we had had some lotion or oil? We could both very well be sitting in a jail in some town in north Texas.
Moral of the story: Travelers coming out of Colorado beware and be wary. Check your headlights, taillights, license plate lights and turn signals. Be sure your registration and inspection stickers are current. Don’t exceed the speed limit. And have your lawyer’s number on speed dial.