Monday, June 3, 2013

Washington Drug Dogs Re-Trained to "Unsmell" Weed

Drug enforcement authorities in Washington are encountering an unusual but awesome problem after the state voted to legalize recreational use of cannabis last year: re-training drug dogs to “unsmell” weed. It’s not a requirement in the state, but departments in Seattle, Bremerton, and Bellevue have opted to either have veteran dogs go through unsmelling training or refrain from teaching new dogs to smell the plant.

“We wanted to train our dog on what was truly illegal substances, that would be heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine,” says Duke Roessel, a dog-handling Bremerton police officer.

There’s also an issue of probable cause (and privacy). If you’re an officer looking for drugs based on the detection of a dog that’s trained to search for weed, is that enough for a warrant? Drug dogs don’t know the difference between the substances they’re sensitive to, so there’s no telling whether they found perfectly legal bud or something more nefarious.

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