Agencies begin phasing out K-9s who sniff for marijuana, citing new law

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WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- Currently, some Colorado drug-sniffing dogs are being taken off the job and their handlers are having to cope with the loss.

The change stems from the legalization of marijuana in Colorado.

When dogs are trained to sniff out a handful of drugs, it's impossible for them to decipher between marijuana and illegal substances.

As laws change, so will K-9 duties. The next generation of K-9s in Colorado will not learn how to detect marijuana. It's a change made because of the legalization of the drug.

The Colorado Supreme Court has now said it's illegal to use a K-9's detection of marijuana as the catalyst for a new search. Handlers says it's impossible to teach trained dogs not to sniff out weed, so a phase-out has begun.

“Agencies have decided to basically phase out these dogs that are trained in marijuana and replace them with dogs that are not trained in marijuana, thus causing a big push to retire a lot of dogs," said Damian Perez, vice president of Colorado's Police K-9 Association.

Some agencies are phasing out the K-9s as they get older and retire, while some are retiring early.

It will take time for all the marijuana-trained K-9s to be phased out. Officer Damian Perez says they are still valuable and help with a lot federal cases because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. Dogs also sniff out schools, where marijuana is not allowed.

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