KEANSBURG, N.J. – A college student says his dreadlocks caused police to suspect he had pot and has filed suit against the department.

Justin Cooke, a 19-year-old student from Colorado was visiting New Jersey when he was crossing the street when he and a friend were stopped by police.

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“Two Keansburg officers stopped the two young men, saying they were suspected of arson and narcotics trafficking, the court documents said,” according to

Cooke is a Rastafarian and has dreadlocks.

He claims he was illegally searched and charged with drug possession, though he produced a Colorado marijuana license.

“One of the officers allegedly told Cooke that he believed Cooke had marijuana because of his dreadlocks,” the paper reports.

Cooke did not submit to the search but was searched anyway and found “what is alleged to be a glass pipe and 0.77 grams of marijuana,” according to his lawsuit.

“Cooke is a practicing member of the Rastafari religion and uses marijuana as a food, medicine and religious sacrament,” the lawsuit says.

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Despite appearing to be legal in Colorado, his license is not recognized in New Jersey.

“Colorado law would not shield him in New Jersey,” criminal defense attorney Allan Marain tells