For decades, police departments throughout the United States have been training canines to sniff out various drugs. Commonly referred to as “drug dogs,” these canines have been taught to sniff out a variety of substances like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and cannabis.
In 2015, nearly half of the United States have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, while four states and Washington D.C. have legalized it for recreational use and retail sale. What does this mean for the drug dogs trained to sniff out marijuana?
Once the new legislation is enacted in Oregon this July, adults 21 years and older will be able to legally possess a specified amount of marijuana within their home and on their person. Therefore, in places like Springfield, Oregon, police dog trainers, like Sgt. Rich Chaboneau, have decided not to continue training the four-scent method. The four-scent method is used when dogs are trained to search for marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
Danner, a beautiful 2 year old black Labrador Retriever was one of the first dogs trained using the three-scent method, which is when marijuana is not included. Although she can sniff out heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, she was one of the first police dogs in Oregon that was not trained to search for cannabis.
Sgt. Chaboneau presented reasoning behind the new training practices. When a police dog goes through four-scent drug training, they are taught to seek out all drugs, but the signals that the dogs use to alert their handlers are the same regardless of the type of drug. This could present legal troubles surrounding searches conducted because a drug dog alerts that there drugs when it turns out that all the dog smelled was marijuana. This would only apply if the search is completed in a state, like Oregon, where the plant has been legalized.
This could cause a potential problem for local District Attorney offices, as well, when prosecuting individuals for drug charges if the drug dog alerts for a legal amount of marijuana. Until legalization goes into effect this July, Oregon DA offices have instructed all police departments to continue business as usual when dealing with marijuana cases.
Regardless of these changes in the dog training policies, larger city police departments within the state of Oregon, like the Portland Police Bureau and Multnomah County Sheriff’s, have declared that they do not plan to eradicate the four-scent method training because they will still need cannabis sniffing canines to assist with larger scale marijuana trafficking busts.
The dogs that have been trained to search for marijuana in areas that have now legalized the plant will either be transferred to locations in which marijuana possession is still prosecuted or they will be retired and adopted to a good home.
Photo Credit: Yahoo, OregonLive
Oregon’s historic Measure 91 was voted into legislation this past Tuesday which has a lot of Americans scratching their heads and asking, “So what now?” We’ve answered some of the most common questions here:
Q: Am I allowed to smoke weed in Oregon?
A: Not yet.
Q: When can I legally possess marijuana?
A: Starting on July 1, 2015, Oregon residents can possess have up to a half pound of marijuana or four plants per household.
Q: How much can I carry in public?
A: Up to 1 ounce.
Q: Can I smoke in public?
Q: Wil there be coffee shops where I can smoke?
Q: When will retail stores be be opening?
A: Applications for retail stores will be accepted Jan. 4, 2016.
Q: What is the legal age for consumption?
A: 21 years old.
Q: Who is in charge of the marijuana program?
A: The Oregon Liquor Control Commission will be responsible for the taxation, licensing, and regulation of recreational marijuana.
Q: Does Measure 91 affect Oregon’s medical marijuana program?
Q: Will I be able to transport marijuana between Oregon and Washington?
A: No, marijuana will not be permitted to cross state lines.
Q: Can I be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana?
A: Definitely. Never drive under the influence.
Q: Where will the tax money go?
- 40% to schools
- 20% to mental health and addiction services
- 15% to state police
- 10% to cities for enforcement of the measure
- 10 to local law enforcement
- 5% to Oregon Health Authority for prevention measures
Q: Will it be legal in every city?
A: Cities and municipalities are allowed to hold their own ballot measures to vote on whether recreational marijuana is right for their town.
Q: How many dispensaries will there be?
A: This isn’t clear yet. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission will have the final say, but has not discussed this yet.
Photo Credit: Yes On 91
Last week, nationally recognized public and drug policy expert, Mark Kleiman, wrote a blog post supporting marijuana legalization efforts in the state of Oregon. Harvard graduate, Kleiman is a Professor of Public Policy at UCLA and Chairman of Botec Analysis Corporation. Botec is the company responsible for helping to develop the legal marijuana policy in the state of Washington. Now, Kleiman publicly announces that he also supports the legalization measure in Oregon.
Kleiman’s endorsement of the measure does not come without a few criticisms examining all worst case scenarios. His analysis of the worst case scenarios and how it is not bad enough to say no, is why he chose to publicly state that he would vote yes to measure 91. In the blog post he wrote, “the choice Oregon voters face isn’t between what’s on the ballot and some perfectly designed cannabis policy; it’s between what’s on the ballot and continued prohibition at the state level, until and unless a better initiative can be crafted, put before the voters, and passed into law.”
He wrote that one of the minor mistakes included in this measure is that it does not demonstrate the understanding that permitting the sale of cannabis to of-age adults in the state of Oregon, may result in the black market re-sale of the purchased products in surrounding states. This is why he proposed the idea of a treaty between state and federal governments agreeing that the production and sale of marijuana can be legalized in any state that takes the necessary precautions to ensure the products remain within state lines. Many law enforcement agencies will be left with extra time and extra money in the budget if petty marijuana arrests are no longer a priority. Some of those man hours could be shifted to focus on keeping marijuana products within state lines.
Another criticism is that the large focus on preventing marketing of marijuana and infused products to minors may cast a shadow on the possibly larger issue of adult dependency on marijuana. Kleiman also writes that it may be a smarter option to prevent the opportunities for the development of Big Marijuana into the industry by requiring that all legal production and sale must be in the hands of non-profit organizations and co-operatives. This would keep the lust of big money out of the equation, leaving only good intentions.
Even with these criticisms, public and drug policy expert, Mark Kleiman, still supports voting YES to measure 91 in Oregon next month. Any changes that need to be made to the details of the measure, once voted in, can be done so with a majority vote by state legislature. Perhaps Kleiman’s endorsement will sway fenced voters to hop down onto the side of legalization, comforted, knowing that the country’s leading policy expert has thoroughly examined the situation, and has deemed it harmless enough.
photo credit: Washington Post
Until recently the tiny town of Sisters, Oregon was not ready to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within city limits. In November, twelve hundred voters in this mountain town will reconsider that decision because of a large demand for medical marijuana by citizens.
Currently, the nearest medical marijuana dispensary is twenty-two miles away in Bend, Oregon. Medical marijuana patients living in Sisters have realized that they would rather be able to obtain medicine in their home town than drive forty minutes to get it. Measure 9-101 can change that.
Sisters, Oregon City Council President, McKibben Womack told KLCC News,
“Proponents are saying we want it because then we don’t have to travel to Bend. Obviously there are those who are in pain and say this is the only thing that works. Those who are against– their big concerns are our children.”
If Measure 9-101 passes in November, the city council will be responsible for establishing regulations to respond to the concerns of the marijuana ending up in the hands of children. Any dispensary, of course, will still have to follow the state imposed guidelines for operation which include strict rules for location in proximity to schools, residential neighborhoods and the like.
More and more Americans are being introduced to the benefits of medical marijuana, and how much it is helping to relieve symptoms of those suffering from debilitating medical conditions throughout the world. For this same reason, it is likely that more districts throughout the state may revisit original decisions against medical marijuana dispensaries.
photo credit: bendhouseseller.com