Colorado Supreme Court hears arguments on future of pot-sniffing police dogs | VailDaily.com | VailDaily.com

Colorado Supreme Court hears arguments on future of pot-sniffing police dogs

ELISE SCHMELZER | The Denver Post
K-9 Echo and her partner, master deputy Rebecca Anderson, are the only active K-9 team currently with the Eagle County Sheriff's Office.
Special to the Daily

Beaker the Belgian Malinois was only 7 years old when changing marijuana laws led his handler to hang up the dog’s police vest.

Beaker, like many police dogs across the country, is trained to alert his handler when he smells marijuana. But his signal for pot is the same as it is for other drugs, such as heroin or meth, said Arvada police Officer Brian Laas, the dog’s handler.

That’s a problem in Colorado, because K-9 handlers can’t tell whether the dog is alerting them to the presence of an illegal substance or legal amounts of weed, and police need probable cause that a crime has been committed before searching further.

On Wednesday, the Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that will set standards for the use of police dogs’ drug-detection skills in this state — and could have repercussions across the country. The state appeals court previously ruled in the same case that a police dog’s signal that a drug is present is not enough evidence on its own to support a search of a vehicle if the dog is trained to detect pot.

Read the full story via The Denver Post.