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

Warren sees bump in national poll following Nevada debate

Photo by David Becker/Getty Images.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren surged to 19% and second place in a CBS News/YouGov national poll released Sunday, trailing front-runner Sen. Bernie Sanders (28%) but edging out Joe Biden (17%) and Michael Bloomberg (13%).

Why it matters: The poll notes that only 42% of Democratic primary voters have made up their minds. While Warren underperformed in the first three states, her strong debate performance in Nevada last week may have given her campaign new life.

Pence aide says intel report of Russia helping Trump is "false information"

Marc Short. Screenshot: Fox News

Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, claimed on "Fox News Sunday" that the White House has not received intelligence that Russia is seeking to help President Trump win re-election, calling it "false information" that has been selectively leaked by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.

The big picture: Short and national security adviser Robert O'Brien both dismissed reports published in the Washington Post and New York Times last week about a briefing provided by top election security official Shelby Pierson, an aide to outgoing acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire.

Bernie's juggernaut

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks in San Antonio last night with his wife, Jane. Photo: Eric Gay/AP

Sen. Bernie Sanders won so big in the Nevada caucuses that Democrats are hard-pressed to sketch a way he's not their nominee.

Driving the news: With 60% of precincts counted (slow, but better than Iowa!), Sanders is running away with 46% of delegates — crushing Joe Biden's 20%, Pete Buttigieg's 15%, Sen. Elizabeth Warren's 10% and Sen. Amy Klobuchar's 5%.