The director of an Illinois training program for police dogs has taken a surprising retort to cannabis legalization in his state. He says that dogs who are trained to sniff out marijuana will likely have to be "euthanized."
As cannabis becomes increasingly legalized across the US, the question arises of what to do with the police dogs trained to detect illicit drugs. These dogs are often trained to sniff out a variety of substances: cocaine, heroin, marijuana, etc. But in states that have legalized cannabis this causes potential invasions of privacy for people who are acting within the scope of the law, says Chad Larner, training director of the K-9 Training Academy in Macon County, Illinois.
"We do not want to subject innocent citizens or motorists who travel through Illinois...to unlawful search and seizures. That is our main priority," Larner told The Pantagraph.
States like Washington have chosen to attempt to retrain their dogs to ignore cannabis, a process that Assistant Police Chief and long time K-9 handler Steve Petrilli of the Normal Police Department says could be a massive - and perhaps unachievable - undertaking.
"At this point, they’re trained on five different odors. Once they’re programmed with that, you can’t just deprogram them," said Petrilli, who was a K-9 handler for eight years. "I think the implications of that would be huge."
In addition to this, there have been recent legal cases where evidence found by drug sniffing dogs has been thrown out by the courts because it "could infringe upon a legitimate expectation of privacy."
Larner suggests that because retraining these dogs may be impossible, and that they are trained to not be social, many would have to be put down. A statement that Dan Linn, the executive director of cannabis advocacy group Illinois NORML, thinks is ridiculous.
"The idea that legalizing for adults to have an ounce on them will equal...all these dogs being euthanized, that seems kind of ridiculous and hyperbolic," he said.
Petrilli said when police dogs are retired, they often continue to live with their handlers, and rejected the idea that those dogs would have to be euthanized. So, this looks like another ridiculous statement made by the anti-cannabis set.