Washington State police agencies change policy due to marijuana legalization
The personal use of marijuana was legalized in Washington State during the November 2012 elections, and some police agencies have begun retraining their drug dogs to ignore marijuana.
Agencies like the Washington State Patrol and the Seattle Police Department are reportedly discontinuing marijuana training for police dogs, and Seattle is desensitizing their canine units through the use of "rewards and constant training," according to a report on the website ThinkProgress. "Marijuana sniffing dogs cannot no longer provide probable cause that a suspect is engaged in criminal activity, because the dogs are trained to alert when the suspect is doing something that is no longer illegal under state law."
The Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys issued a memo explaining that the dogs can no longer be the exclusive justification for a personal search. Not all police agencies have taken these steps and continue to use marijuana-sniffing drug dogs.
Initiative 502, Washington's legalization bill from 2012, has already brought about significant changes in that state- and changes are planned for the newly-enacted law. HB 2000, introduced by Democratic Representative Chris Hurst, proposes to reduce the distance a dispensary can be located from 1,000 feet to 500 feet. The bill would require a 2/3 majority vote in the House and Senate.
In recent hearings members of the marijuana community have stood side by side with prohibitionists to oppose this measure. Allison Holcomb of the ACLU of Washington reminded the Representatives that many marijuana distribution centers were closed down in Washington's King County by federal agents for being withing 1,000 feet of schools and other protected locations.
Source: The Compassion Chronicles