Tennessee Police Mistake Common Ohio State University Symbol For Marijuana


Sometimes, you just can’t make this stuff up:

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.

“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.

“He looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language,” she said.

At that point, Boggioni got out of the car to show that he was wearing a commemorative sweatshirt from the 2002 national-championship season, complete with a Buckeye leaf.

The officer then explained that someone from outside his jurisdiction — apparently another officer — had spotted the leaf sticker and thought it might indicate that the car was carrying marijuana, Jonas-Boggioni said.

This, of course, makes perfect sense. Because a Buckeye leaf looks exactly like a marijuana leaf (not really), and because marijuana couriers commonly identify themselves by putting stickers on their vehicles.

H/T: Poor Richard’s News

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Sports, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. edmondo says:

    Maybe we could ask the terrorists to slap a turban on their cars and save about $4 trillion a year in Homeland Security appropriations?

  2. al-Ameda says:

    Hey, it’s “fly-over America” I expect this kind of stuff.

  3. bernieyeball says:

    I propose the Tennessee Troopers adopt What Kind of Fool am I as their marching song!

    “What kind of clown am I?
    What do I know of life?”


  4. Jeremy R says:

    This, of course, makes perfect sense. Because a Buckeye leaf looks exactly like a marijuana leaf (not really), and because marijuana couriers commonly identify themselves by putting stickers on their vehicles.

    Also, even assuming it was a marijuana sticker, is that really something that gets people flagged a county over and then chased down by two police SUVs? Apparently yes, I guess.

  5. Chris Berez says:

    So cops can pull you over just because they see a sticker on your car they don’t like?

    That’s kind of a rhetorical question. I know the answer in practice. But in principle this seems like it should be incredibly illegal on multiple levels.

    Of course, I went to a college that had/has a reputation for drug use. Cops used to pull kids over all the time when they left campus to harass them. My girlfriend and I got pulled over once just because the cop spotted the college sticker on the back of her car.

  6. bernieyeball says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Dance Mr. Bojangles! Too bad he didn’t put down the chokes. Maybe he would have lived longer…

  7. John Burgess says:

    All the alumni of Toke-Toke University have been arrested. The cops didn’t understand the False Aralia decal, either…


  8. Franklin says:

    Surely Doug should know the answer: in what way was this a legal stop?

  9. bernieyeball says:

    @Franklin: I suspect that if they want to the cops can stop you for going too fast for conditions on a dry, sunny day. Even if you are obeying the posted speed limit.

  10. matt says:

    @bernieyeball: Oh cops can be quite resourceful if they want a “reason” to pull you over. I’ve been pulled over for having a brake-light out that magically worked after the cop left (he wouldn’t let me check it). For failure to yield when exiting an alley (there was no one to yield to, the cop couldn’t see me exit the alley and I did stop for a moment before pulling out). For failure to signal a lane change (I used my signal for 50 ft). For “swerving” in my lane (I was sober and definitely not swerving). These were just excuses so they could pull me over and force me into accepting a search of my car and myself. I’ve never been arrested and none of these pull overs resulted in a ticket but I’m still kind of bitter about the treatment I’ve received from police officers..

    EDIT: Oh my favorite would be the time I was pulled over because I was “avoiding them” by not driving past officers who had someone pulled over and were standing partly in the street. I saw this and decided to turn which resulted in an unmarked car following me for 11 blocks through a variety of turns. I actually thought I was dealing with some punks when I pulled over and confronted them. They of course jumped out with guns and badges. I had no idea they were cops as their car was normal and they were wearing normal clothes (one had a 311 shirt). I then proceeded to enjoy an hour long interrogation/discussion with one of them while the other tore my little CRX apart. Found nothing but papers (oops) and boy were they interested in those..

  11. Richard Braswell says:

    It’s a good thing there was not a Jimmy Dean Sausage sticker on the car…one has to kill pigs to make sausage, I am sure the inbreds in Tennessee would have taken that as a threat.

  12. bill says:

    @Chris Berez: the creepy part is that the cops actually told them that- that’s not “just cause’ to pull someone over in most of the country!

  13. Mr. Prosser says:

    Hey, why surprised? This is the typical cop. Good thing they weren’t African-American, they’d have been explaining it in custody. Good thing they weren’t delivering newspapers or they’d be digging 20 rounds out of their car, or going surfing, then they’d be towing their car to a body shop.

  14. Motopilot says:

    As a young guy that had hair down to the middle of my back in the 60s/70s, getting temporarily detained was pretty commonplace for nothing other than appearance. The excuses the cops used were obviously improvised (as my brother-in-law cop admits happens all the time). But if the cop(s) were good natured I would start joking about it with them, make the best of the situation.
    For example, while hitch hiking one time I was wearing a pair of pants that had wide vertical white/navy stripes and flared at the bottom. Cop pulls over to check me out, telling me that I looked like someone that had recently escaped from prison. Oooo-kay. This one was not good natured, which gets pretty tiresome.

  15. bernieyeball says:

    @Motopilot: This had to be 1969 or 70. My room mate and I had gotten a ride from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale to
    U of I in Champaign.
    Our ride was one way and we figured we could hitchhike back if we had to. About 200 miles. We had to.
    The Interstate wasn’t finished yet and we were hitching a ride south by the side of the road a few miles from the nearest Interstate entrance when an Illinois State Trooper past us going north.
    It wasn’t long before he had turned around and stopped and asked us for our ID’s and where we were going. One of us asked if something was wrong and he replied “Just a routine check.”
    He never checked our suitcases. (Not many back packs in those days.)
    When he was done he told us to get in the car and he would give us a ride to the Interstate ramp.
    By god he did! Of course the joke was on him as we had just picked up a few bags of weed over the weekend and he helped us carry it those few miles! Another Public Service from your local law enforcement!

  16. Davebo says:

    I was once pulled over for having a 100 Club sticker on my car. When I explained that the 100 Club based in a city 3 hours drive away was an organization that paid benefits to families of fallen law enforcement he oddly lost interest in me.

    Then he did seem to have a pretty short attention span.

  17. Anderson says:

    Not sure what her damages are, but no question it’s an unconstitutional stop, just as much as if her sticker had said LEGALIZE POT.

  18. bill says:

    @Anderson: or “forward’!

  19. rodney dill says:

    marijuana couriers commonly identify themselves by putting stickers on their vehicles.

    ’bout as plausible as Gun Free Zones.