Drug-Sniffing Dogs Learn to Pass on Pot

By Bryan Le 03/22/13

Washington cops are retraining their canines to ignore the scent of now-legal marijuana.

Can these guys learn some new tricks?
Photo via

From now on, Washington's drug-sniffing dogs have bigger fish to fry than sniffing out marijuana. Since the passing of I-502, many of the state's law enforcement facilities are training their canines to ignore the drug, which is now legal and regulated under state law. “Moving forward, it makes most sense not to train dogs to alert to marijuana as that would likely lead to unwarranted investigatory detentions of people who are not breaking any law," says Alison Holcomb, author of I-502 and ACLU drug policy director. In the meantime, until all dogs are on board with the changes, officers will no longer be obtain a search warrant based on a dog's alert alone. According to a memo from the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, these changes will remain in place until the old dogs retire, to prevent any unwarranted searches. Many agencies, like the Seattle Police Department, are already taking steps to desensitize their dogs to marijuana. This requires "lots of training," says SPD Sgt. Sean Holcomb, “Got to keep those sniffers in shape.” However, some agencies, like the Tacoma Police Department, are refusing to adapt to the new canine training regimen, since marijuana is still illegal under federal law. The ACLU has expressed concern that this kind of attitude could lead to a slew of unwarranted searches.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter