Legal marijuana is causing unemployment for police dogs

By Oscar Pascual |

While states with recreational marijuana have largely benefited from higher tax revenues and lower crime rates, one group is truly feeling the bite from legalization: police dogs.

As Oregon moves closer to its first day of fully legalized marijuana on July 1, two drug-sniffing canines working for the Medford Police Department are facing early retirement, the Seattle Times reports.

Narc, a Belgian Malinois, is trained to sit when he smells pot, while Cody, a lab mix, freezes in one position to alert his partner.

Sgt. D.J. Graham, head of the department’s drug-sniffing canine program, considers both dogs to be “model employees.”

“They’re both very friendly and both hard-working and have high energy,” Graham said in an interview with the Washington Post. “They’re both very focused when it comes to their work and they work for cheap: food and play.”

Cody and Narc face retirement due to the fact that they’re used to provide probable cause in order to search people or property for drugs. If a suspect were carrying both recreational marijuana and an illegal substance like cocaine, their arrest could be invalidated because the dog may have been smelling legal pot.

As it turns out, the old adage of teaching an old dog new tricks runs true.

“It’s much harder to retrain a dog than it is to train them for the first time,” Graham told the Post. “Their brains develop synapses the same way human brains do. In times of stress or confusion, it becomes harder to ignore those synapses.”

Medford Police are now requesting $24,000 in the city’s upcoming budget to train new dogs that would only smell cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine, and not marijuana. Each dog would cost $12,000, which includes extensive training and certification.

Medford’s police chief Tim George promises that the dogs will get a good home and will definitely not be euthanized.

George feels that that the ability to detect marijuana won’t be needed soon enough, as their department polices an area already known for growing high-quality pot.

“We are marijuana central,” George told the Times. “Nobody does it better than we do.”

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