In the new state of Colorado, law enforcement can no longer use drug-sniffing dogs to search for marijuana. Last week, the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division acknowledged that they no longer have the capacity to train the dogs—and that the decision to end the program was made after a court decision found that the dogs were not trained to detect marijuana. The decision was a setback for law enforcement, who had hoped to use the dogs as a deterrent. “We wanted the dogs to be used in an educational way, but we have no way of tracking what they’re doing now,” explained assistant chief for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Mark Techmeyer.
Dogs are amazing creatures. They’re loyal, friendly, and always eager to please. But if you’ve ever been a dog owner, you know they’re not perfect. You’ve probably also encountered a canine that is a bit too clever for his or her own good.
Many police departments in New Mexico have recently complained about the elimination of dogs that are unable to tell the difference between cannabis – now legal in many states – and illegal drugs. The use of dogs to detect cannabis raises serious legal questions.
The 29th. In June, the Tucumcari Police Department posted a lengthy eulogy on Facebook announcing the retirement of Aries, the last drug dog, and attributing his departure to the legalization of cannabis for adult use.
We want to take a moment to congratulate K9 Aries on his retirement will take effect today, June 29, 2021, they wrote. After the legalization of recreational marijuana, K9 Aries can no longer be used as a drug dog.
Last May, KOB 4 Investigates published an article about the Farmington Police Department’s plan to retire all of its drug dogs. Why? Indeed, the use of dogs would legally nullify attempts to establish probable cause.
Now that marijuana is legal, if the dog is alerted and we get a warrant, we are violating someone’s rights. That means the simplest and easiest thing was to stop using these dogs for these purposes, Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe said.
The New Mexico State Police will have to retire its nine K-9s, trained to detect marijuana. Once the new dogs are trained, handlers will have the option of sending them home, or we will consider other options, such as giving them to other law enforcement agencies outside New Mexico that have not yet legalized marijuana, the department said in a statement.
The fiscal impact report estimates that it would cost about $194,000 to replace the nine dogs working with state police with new dogs trained to detect non-marijuana drugs. It is not known whether it is possible to teach dogs not to sniff cannabis, and whether it would be as expensive. Once a dog’s scent is ingrained, it’s hard to get rid of it. And the problem is that they need dogs now.
Meanwhile, in upstate New York, Chautauqua County Sheriff James Quattrone doesn’t think the dogs in his state will be retired after legalization, but admits they probably won’t be able to be recycled. … There is no legally valid example of a dog being rehabilitated or freed from a previously impregnated odor, he said last month.
Long before cannabis was legalized for adults, the use of sniffer dogs to determine probable cause was regularly challenged in the Supreme Court, with varying results.
A few years ago, K-9 units were deployed to schools in Ohio to search for drugs in children’s lockers, raising ethical questions. It was the school’s response to the great vaping anxiety that began in late 2019 after a wave of serious lung injuries from dangerous additives in unregulated vape pens.
This year it was announced that Mayfield City Schools had decided to deploy drug dogs in the school’s hallways. In particular, dogs trained to detect ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and cannabis are now being used in schools.
Law firms across the country are looking for cases involving sniffer dogs and vehicle searches, as many legal concerns arise.
In Colorado, the Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that police must establish probable cause before using drug sniffer dogs. Prior to this decision, sniffer dogs were often used as a means by which police officers could determine probable cause. In other words: If a dog signals the presence of drugs to the police, that in itself is grounds for a search.
The sniffer dog violates a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy during a lawful activity, Supreme Court Justice William Hood wrote in the majority decision. If so, the intrusion must be justified by a specific suspicion of criminal activity.