WEED FEED / John Ross Ferrara / Monday, Nov. 26 @ 9:38 a.m.

Weed Feed: Drug-Sniffing Dogs a Liability for Search and Seizure Cases Where Pot is Legal; Some Police Pooches Given Early Retirement



Outpost file photo of EPD K9 Max.

Police K9s trained to sniff out marijuana are hanging up their collars early in areas of the US. where the drug is now legal.

The New York Times reports that sniffer dogs trained to hit on the smell of marijuana have become a legal liability in states with recreational and medical marijuana laws.

Last year, an appellate court in Colorado reversed the conviction of Kevin Keith McKnight, who was found in possession of a suspected meth pipe after a police K9 signaled on his truck. The panel of judges unanimously ruled that although no marijuana was found in the man’s truck, the marijuana-smelling K9’s signal did not provide enough probable cause for officers to search a vehicle where the occupants were at least 21 years old.

“In sum, I conclude that the information available to the officers who searched McKnight’s truck did not give them probable cause to believe that it contained evidence of a crime,” Judge John Daniel Dailey stated in his opinion.

The Times reports that a Colorado K9 named Tulo was retired following the court’s decision, and that police agencies across the country are now asking for dogs that aren’t trained to smell for marijuana — like the Eureka Police Department’s new K9, Max, who is only trained to smell for meth, heroin and cocaine.

“I just did a dog for a department in Texas that asked me not to put marijuana on her,” Top Dog Police K-9 Training and Consulting owner Ron Cloward of Modesto, Calif. Told the Times. “They had the feeling there could be some changes coming there, and they wanted to plan ahead.”

Colorado’s Supreme Court is currently reviewing the appellate court’s decision in the Kevin Keith McKnight case.

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The Weed Feed is a weekly column written by John Ross Ferrara.

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