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Marijuana legalization encourages police dog retirement

Richmond, Virginia (AP) — In states where marijuana has been legalized, asking dogs to sniff nose no longer works.

As Virginia prepares to legalize adult possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana on July 1, drug detection police dogs across the state follow trends in other states where the legalization has placed K-9. I am forced to retire early. Grazing earlier than planned.

Virginia began a rush to withdraw marijuana-detecting dogs from service before lawmakers voted to speed up the legalization schedule. Another law, which came into force in March, caused police to remove marijuana from service. It is forbidden to stop or search for people just because of the smell.

Virginia police have retired 13 K-9s, but many small police stations and sheriffs’ offices have retired one or two dogs. Most dogs are buying and training new dogs to detect only illicit drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Some departments have disbanded K-9 units because they cannot afford to pay up to $ 15,000 to buy and train new dogs.

Dogs trained with multiple drugs issue the same warning to all dogs, so it is not possible to determine if they indicate the presence of marijuana or illicit drugs. Dogs also cannot distinguish between small amounts of legal marijuana and large amounts of still illegal marijuana. In the case of police, this means that it cannot be used to establish a significant cause of the investigation.

“We don’t use marijuana-trained dogs because they can be a defense that lawyers raise for their clients, said Sheriff Mike Miller, Bedford County.

Using dogs trained to detect all drugs except marijuana “helps to ensure that you haven’t touched marijuana, found heroin, etc.,” Miller said.

Miller’s office has retired one dog and is currently using the second dog exclusively for tracking and arrest missions, not for drug detection. His office also bought a new dog that hadn’t been trained to smell marijuana. The dog is used to detect other drugs. Miller says he wants to buy two drug detection dogs, but he doesn’t know when he can find the money within his budget.

Similar adjustments were needed in other states that previously legalized marijuana.

“This trend is everywhere,” said Don Slavik, secretary-general of the American Police Dog Association.

“Once you train your dog’s behavior, it never goes away. They don’t want to make mistakes, so they want to bring in a new dog,” he said.

The Colorado Court of Appeals’ 2017 ruling raised concerns that using marijuana-trained dogs where cannabis is legal may not be able to withstand legal objections.

Kilo, a dog from the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office trained on multiple drugs, was warned on a male truck during a 2015 traffic outage. Police officers found a pipe of methamphetamine containing white residue. The court ruled that Kilo’s warning was not a reliable indicator of illegal activity because dogs could not distinguish between marijuana and illegal drugs. The court overturned the man’s drug possession conviction, finding that police had no legal basis for searching his truck. The ruling was later upheld by the Colorado Supreme Court.

In Massachusetts, where recreational marijuana was legalized in 2016, Quincy police moved two dogs from drug investigations to patrols and retired about 18 months later.

Lieutenant Bob Gillan, police K-9 unit supervisor, said drug traffickers quickly found a way to question the legality of searches by dogs trained to detect marijuana.

“Usually, when they deliver illegal drugs, they always burn marijuana in the car. Any lawyer will say,’Your dog hit a legitimate substance’ (illegal). It’s not a drug), “he said.

Scott Amos, Sergeant Virginia Police Dog Training Coordinator, is busy training new dogs to detect MDMA, also known as ecstasy, as the day of legalization on July 1 is approaching. Said. Cocaine, heroine, methamphetamine, 13 dogs ready to retire. Apollo, Aries, Bandit, Blaze, Jacks, Kane, Martell, Nina, Reno, Surge, Thunder, Zeus and Zoe have been taken over by the handlers, Amos said.

Cumberland County Sheriff Darrell Hodges recently said his office had to retire a Belgian Malinois named Mambo, a drug-detecting K-9. He said 17 departments did not have the funds to buy and train new dogs.

“You work with them every day, they become part of you and it’s a little hard to just get rid of it,” he said.

Hodges said everything went well for Mambo, who was adopted by the handler.

“Dog really has a great life,” he said. “He has his bedroom in the house and is starting to rot.”

Marijuana legalization encourages police dog retirement

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