Last November, voters in Washington State legalized recreational marijuana. Now, police departments throughout that state say that their drug sniffing dogs have to be retrained or possibly lose their jobs.
The problem arises from the fact that police officers will no longer be able to get search warrants based solely a sniff alert from a police dog; particularly if that dog still alerts to marijuana, which is now legal there for personal use. In other words, the sniff is no longer reliable with respect to probable cause because a small amount of marijuana is no longer considered contraband.
A recent memo from the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys to police agencies said that officers who seek search warrants based even in part on a dog's sniff alert will be required to notify the judge that the dog was trained prior to the legalization of marijuana. The officer would then have to present additional evidence to obtain the warrant, such as a suspect's whereabouts, the criminal history, or corroborating information from a witness.
So the rules in Washington State have changed. And like so many other Americans who face layoffs in this ever changing world, Fido and his colleagues may have to relocate to another state if they want to continue to work in their field.