No, legalizing pot doesn't mean we'll have to euthanize police dogs

No, legalizing pot doesn't mean we'll have to euthanize police dogs

VicesMay 09, 2018 By Reilly Capps

On the long list titled Stupid Arguments for Keeping Marijuana Illegal, one of the more ridiculous popped up in the news today:

Legalize weed, and dogs die. 

Yes, conservative clickbaiters and super buzzkillers Fox News and the New York Post picked up on a news story from Central Illinois in which a cop said that, if voters approve recreational weed, the state's drug sniffing dogs will have to be euthanized. 

"Marijuana Legalization will Literally Kill Police Drug Dogs," wrote some blog

This is not true, at least if Colorado is any indication

Not a single drug sniffing dog has been euthanized since Colorado legalized pot in 2012, says two Coloradans who work with police dogs.

"We haven't retired any canines because of the legalization of medicinal or recreational marijuana," said sergeant Rob Madden, spokesman for the Colorado State Patrol. And certainly none have been euthanized.

The dogs are all fine. 

What is happening is different training for new dogs.

"If it's going to a Colorado bureau, we don't train them on marijuana anymore," said Chris Pelle of Complete Canine Training, an outfit in northern Colorado that trains police dogs.

In legal weed Colorado, most K9s are being trained to look only for cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and meth. Before legalization, most were trained to smell those four plus cannabis. Dogs headed to other states are still trained on all five, Pelle said.

The older dogs can't be untrained to ignore cannabis, Pelle and Madden said. You can't teach an old dog new sniffs.

But they aren't being killed. There will always be plenty of work for the ganja-trained drug dogs, Pelle said, in prisons and schools, where marijuana is still forbidden.

"The landscape has drastically changed and it's continually changing," Pelle said.

But a vote for marijuana does not send a dog to his death.


UPDATE: The Illinois police officer who initially said the dogs would have to die admitted he mispoke

[Cover photo: one of the many police dogs whose lives won't end once marijuana is legalized.]