Buckeye Leaf Mistaken (for marijuana) by Tennessee Police
Tennessee police might need better instruction in botany and Buckeye football.
A 65-year-old woman recently came under suspicion, she reported, for having a Buckeye leaf decal on her car. The cops mistook it for a marijuana symbol.
What they really need is better instruction in the First Amendment and
“It’s just amazing they would be that dumb,” Bonnie Jonas-Boggioni said.
She lives in Plano, Texas, but she grew up in Columbus and is known as a lifelong Buckeyes fan.
She has served as president of the Ohio State Alumni Club in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
On Feb. 4, Jonas-Boggioni and husband Guido Boggioni, 66, were driving home to Plano after a trip to Columbus to attend the funeral of his mother, Eleanor, 92.
They were in the westbound lanes of I-40, a few miles east of Memphis, when a black police SUV with flashing lights pulled them over, Jonas-Boggioni said.A second black SUV soon pulled up behind the first one.
“Knowing I wasn’t speeding, I couldn’t imagine why,” she said.
Two officers approached, one on each side of the car.
“They were very serious,” she said. “They had the body armor and the guns.”
Because the couple’s two schnauzers were barking furiously, one of the officers had Jonas-Boggioni exit the car so he could hear her better.
“What are you doing with a marijuana sticker on your bumper?” he asked her.
She explained that it is actually a Buckeye leaf decal, just like the ones that Ohio State players are given to put on their helmets to mark good plays.
Neither the Tennessee Highway Patrol nor the Shelby County sheriff’s office in Memphis had information about the traffic stop. A marijuana sticker would not be a sufficient reason to stop a car, said a spokeswoman for the West Tennessee Drug Task Force.
Even if it were, Jonas-Boggioni said, police hunting drugs should know that a Buckeye leaf — which has five leaflets — doesn’t look much like a marijuana leaf, which typically has seven leaflets and a narrower shape.
Before they let her go on her way, the officers advised Jonas-Boggioni to remove the decal from her car.
“I said, ‘You mean in Tennessee?’ and he said, ‘No, permanently.’
Update: I guess I should get that Texas Star hibiscus leaf off my car.