Weed-sniffing dogs are out of work because so many states legalized weed – indy100

Recreational Cannabis Legalisation

K-9 officer dogs that detect marijuana could be out of a job – because more and more states are legalizing the drug.

So far, more than 16 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, while more have legalized the drug for medicinal use.

A dog’s sense of smell is two thousand times stronger than a human’s, according to security firm ICTS, therefore, they can be trained to find a variety of illegal drugs that humans would not be able to detect.

“Sniffer dogs have totally no interest in the drugs themselves. What they’re actually searching for is their favorite toy. Their training programme has led them to associate that toy with the smell of drugs,” ICTS reported.

This means that dogs who have been trained to detect marijuana cannot be retrained/untrained to stop them from doing this when it becomes legal.

The trend of dogs being retired due to marijuana legalization is “everywhere,” Don Slavik, executive director of the United States Police Canine Association told AP.

“Once you train a behavior in a dog, that never goes away. They don’t want any mistakes, so that is why they want to bring in new dogs,” he added.

Virginia is a prime example of this – where marijuana is set to become legal later this year and consequently sniffer dogs are forced to retire early – 13 at Virginia state police so far.

Though this doesn’t mean the role of K-9’s is completely snuffed out (pardon the pun).

Some are instead getting newly trained pups that only recognize drugs that remain illegal.

However, others have no choice but to end the K-9 programs altogether as they cannot afford the cost of a newly trained dog which is around $15,000, the Associated Press reported.

In April, The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill that allows for the legal possession of one ounce of marijuana.

This will go into effect later this year on July 1, after Gov. Ralph Northam signed it off.

Good news though – retired service dogs often get adopted by their handlers, or other service members, or if not can K-9 dogs can be adopted by the public, according to The Spruce Pets.