With the implementation of Measure 91 in Oregon this upcoming summer, the need for marijuana-sniffing K9 officers is on the decline. At least six Oregon police agencies have decided to re-assign or retire their marijuana-sniffing K9’s. The department as decided to go with dogs that are only trained to alert to the presence of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
Come this July when the new measure goes into effect, Oregon residents 21 and over can legally possess up to a half pound of marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles in a residence. In public, a person can carry up to an ounce of trimmed and dried marijuana.
Not only are the marijuana-sniffing K9's really not needed as marijuana prohibition comes to an end, but there will also be the added risk of conducting an illegal search and seizure. The dogs give the same alert signal no matter the drug and have no way to determine the amount of contraband in a stash.
Some law enforcement agencies are going to hang on to their cannabis-sniffing counterparts to be used in more targeted investigations. Under the new law, it will still be illegal for people to possess more than eight ounces or posses any of the substance in locations like schools and jails.
Unfortunately, some dogs will find themselves unemployed due to the new measure. However, the various police agencies throughout the state hope to find most of the out of work dogs a new home. Options include one of the many jails or prisons, or placement with a school resource officer.
Other states such as Colorado and Washington have had more time to ponder the situation. These states, much like Oregon, are having mixed results. After all, this is new territory for all the states involved. As of yet, none have developed a consistent plan to deal with now soon-to-be obsolete police tactics.