Marijuana Legalization Is Putting Drug Dogs in Early Retirement

Samantha Schwab
Nov 27, 2018
2 min read
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Drug dogs who have been previously trained to detect narcotics, including marijuana, are now considered a liability, according to Fox News. Since marijuana has become legal in some places, a detection from these drug dogs may not be sufficient grounds for search by police.

“A dog can’t tell you, ‘Hey, I smell marijuana’ or ‘I smell meth,’” Rifle Police Chief, Tommy Klein, tells The New York Times. “They have the same behavior for any drug that they’ve been trained on. If Tulo were to alert on a car, we no longer have probable cause for a search based on his alert alone.”

The Globe and Mail reported that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police recently retired 14 traffic and interdiction dogs who are relied on to detect cannabis at traffic stops. Since the drug has become legal, they can’t be used to establish grounds to search a driver’s vehicle.

It’s not all bad news, though. “They finally get to play all day," RCMP spokeswoman Caroline Nadeau tells the Globe and Mail.

In Colorado, an appeals court ruling is pushing more of these dogs to retire early, according to Fox News. In the case, the dog alerted police of drugs in a vehicle, which happened to be a methamphetamine pipe. The judge ruled that a drug dog’s did not constitute probable cause for the search, because the dog can’t distinguish between an illegal drug and legal cannabis.

The Supreme Court is currently reviewing the decision of the case, according to Fox.

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