Nov 25, 2018

Marijuana legalization forces some drug dogs into early retirement

Narcotics dog 'Buddy' sits with his handler Deputy Truman Aumiller in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The legalization of marijuana across the country is threatening the jobs of one unique law enforcement branch: Drug detection dogs.

The big picture: The New York Times reports that the dogs can no longer be "counted on to smell the right thing" if they were trained to recognize marijuana. A Colorado appeals court case last year is pushing departments to retire their dogs early after a conviction was overturned because a drug dog trained to find marijuana detected a man's truck, but found methamphetamine residue and no marijuana.

Why it matters: Training dogs is expensive. A working dog is usually at least $6,000, the NYT reports, and even more to train it.

  • The dogs will become a prime target in court cases on drug convictions. The head trainer at a facility which sells dogs to police departments around the country, Dave Smith, told the Times: "Any defense attorney is going to ask, 'Has your dog ever alerted to marijuana?"

What's next: Many of the dogs will find homes with their former partners. One canine officer in Colorado, Brian Laas, told the NYT: "They're our kids. When they're done working, we're going to make sure they're really well taken care of."

Go deeper

HBCUs are missing from the discussion on venture capital's diversity

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Venture capital is beginning a belated conversation about its dearth of black investors and support of black founders, but hasn't yet turned its attention to the trivial participation of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as limited partners in funds.

Why it matters: This increases educational and economic inequality, as the vast majority of VC profits go to limited partners.

Unemployment rate falls to 13.3% in May

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May, with 2.5 million jobs gained, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The far better-than-expected numbers show a surprising improvement in the job market, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The difficulty of calculating the real unemployment rate

Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Note: Initial traditional state claims from the weeks of May 23 and 30, continuing traditional claims from May 23. Initial PUA claims from May 16, 23, and 30, continuing PUA and other programs from May 16; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The shocking May jobs report — with a decline in the unemployment rate to 13.3% and more than 2 million jobs added — destroyed expectations of a much worse economic picture.

Why it matters: Traditional economic reports have failed to keep up with the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic and have made it nearly impossible for researchers to determine the state of the U.S. labor market or the economy.