Add this tall tale to the endless list of reefer madness fibs: Marijuana legalization will force law enforcement agencies to euthanize drug-sniffing dogs because they won’t have jobs.
The latest tidbit of disinformation comes from The Pantagraph, an Illinois news outlet. In a story published earlier this week, the Pantagraph reported:
If Illinois legalizes marijuana for recreational use, law enforcement officials fear job losses for hundreds of officers — specifically, the four-legged kind.
Police agencies spend thousands of dollars and months of training to teach dogs how to sniff out and alert officers to the presence of marijuana, heroin, cocaine and other drugs. If pot use becomes legal, the dogs would likely either have to be retrained — which some handlers say is impossible or impractical — or retired.
So far, not so alarming. Retiring a dog is a lot better than killing one. But later in the story, we get this nugget from Chad Larner, training director of the K-9 Training Academy in Macon County. According to Larner, retraining dogs would amount to “extreme abuse” to change their mindset. K-9s are rewarded for successfully alerting to the presence of narcotics, and they continue to train regularly with their handlers for a suggested minimum of 16 hours a month.
Because many K-9s are trained not to be social so their work won’t be affected, Larner said a number of dogs would likely have to be euthanized.
Dan Linn, executive director of the marijuana advocacy group Illinois NORML, called the idea a “red herring.”
“The idea that legalizing for adults to have an ounce on them will equal … all these dogs being euthanized, that seems kind of ridiculous and hyperbolic,” he said.
Illinois is considering a vote making it the 10th state to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
“The biggest thing for law enforcement is, you’re going to have to replace all of your dogs,” said Macon County Sheriff Howard Buffett, the son of billionaire Warren Buffett and whose private foundation paid $2.2 million in 2016 to support K-9 units in 33 counties across Illinois. “So to me, it’s a giant step forward for drug dealers, and it’s a giant step backwards for law enforcement and the residents of the community.”