Colorado Legal Issues Marijuana

Future Colorado K-9 Units Won’t Be Trained to Detect Weed

In July, Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that a K-9 cop dog who detects drugs doesn’t automatically provide legal means for search. Marijuana is legal, after all. And its use is expanding rapidly. According to one Colorado officer, “Dogs that can sniff for marijuana get called into court and can make things more difficult.”

New K-9 Puppies Won’t Be Sniffing for Pot

Two new puppies recently joined the police force in Rifle, Colorado. 12-year-old Carter Fulk, who wants to be a cop when he grows up, raised the funds for the new puppies to join the force. Jax and Makai will become the newest K-9 units in Rifle, but will be trained to ignore the smell of cannabis.

The puppies will eventually replace Tulo, Rifle Police Department’s drug sniffing dog. Tulo has been on the force for years. Initially trained to detect all drugs, including cannabis, the new puppies that follow in the steps of his paws won’t be sniffing for weed.

Jax and Makai are expected to be in action and out on the field sometime next year. For now, they’re going through basic training. Officer Garrett Duncan is training the pups and says they are “just working on the basics right now.” He explains at this stage, it’s “all about repetition and positive reinforcement.”

Duncan, who has also worked with Tulo, joined the Rifle Police Department in 2010. He has been working with the current K-9 unit since.

Drug Sniffing Dogs Considered Infringement of Privacy in Some Legal Pot States

The Colorado ruling in July has made drug sniffing dogs that detect cannabis considered an infringement on a person’s privacy. Other states are similarly following suit. In places where weed is legal for recreational use, K-9 units that detect marijuana are starting to be phased out.

This isn’t to say that new police puppies joining the force won’t be sniffing for other hard substances. Trainers, like Duncan, will simply shift the focus to harder drugs. Because K-9 units can’t communicate what kind of drug they detect, weed is no longer going to be one of them.

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