If Illinois legalizes recreational marijuana, what could happen to the state’s K-9 officers that are already trained to detect marijuana? According to Chad Larner, the training director at K-9 Training Academy in Macon County, Illinois, “a number of dogs would likely have to be euthanized.” This is, according to Lerner, because “retraining them is usually impossible or impractical.” Retirement is another possibility – and a more humane one at that.
Macon County Sheriff Howard Buffett commented that law enforcement agencies would likely need to replace their K-9 officers if legalization occurs since K-9 officers are trained to detect multiple drugs, including cocaine, heroin, opioids and marijuana, the Belleville News-Democrat reports. The new K-9s would be trained to detect illegal drugs, excluding marijuana.
When legalization took place in Oregon, their marijuana-detecting K-9 officers were either retired or reassigned. Oregon reported that the cost of a single K-9 officer is $12,000 with training included.
Retired K-9 officers are typically adopted by their police handlers.
Washington took the same approach when they legalized in 2015. If the K-9s could not be retrained, they were retired. While larger quantities of marijuana remain illegal in Washington, some departments chose to keep their veteran K-9 officers on duty to help in rare occasions.