New marijuana laws have created an estimated 200,000 jobs in America as legalization spreads across the nation. Sadly, one employee sector is taking a significant hit: drug-sniffing police dogs.
Meet the latest victim of this downsizing: Hank from the Lompoc, Calif., Police Department. The healthy, capable canine has seven years of service with the department and still has many years left in him. But California voters last November decided to legalize marijuana, leaving Hank without much to do.
“With Prop 64 we’ve seen some changes in California law as it applies to marijuana.. one of the odors he’s trained to alert on is marijuana,” Lompoc Police Sgt. Kevin Martin told KEYT. “With Hank’s training being in marijuana, we felt we couldn’t use him the same way we could prior to the change in the law,” Martin said.
Related Story: Colorado Gives Drug-Sniffing Police Dogs The Boot
According to Martin, law enforcement agencies across the state may be forced to retire more and more K-9 officers because of Prop 64. “They’re all facing this issue .. and they’re going to have to make a determination on how they’re going to deal with it,” Martin said.
But don’t feel to sorry for Hank. On Thursday afternoon, the Lompoc Police Department celebrated the retirement of the popular pup with a pot (no pun intended) luck supper.
And it’s just not California police departments being forced to layoff service dogs. Just last month, a Colorado appeals court ruled that the presence of marijuana in a car, detected by drug-sniffing police dogs, does not provide probable cause for police to search the vehicle. This decision has forced Colorado agencies to review their policies on drug-sniffing K-9 units.
In the landmark Colorado case (People of the State of Colorado v. Kevin Keith McKnight), Judge Daniel Dailey wrote in his ruling that it could be legal marijuana in the certain vehicle:
“Because Amendment 64 legalized possession for personal use of one ounce or less of marijuana by persons 21 years of age or older in Colorado, it is no longer accurate to say, at least as a matter of state law, that an alert by a dog which can detect marijuana — but not specific amounts — can reveal only the presence of ‘contraband.”
So, as more and more humans are being hired as extraction technicians or trimmers or retail specialists, our four-legged, furry friends will be forced to find employment elsewhere.