With Moffat County case in spotlight, pot-sniffing dogs role unclear with marijuana legalized – Colorado News

With Moffat County case in spotlight, pot-sniffing dogs role unclear with marijuana legalized – Colorado News

Deuce, a German Shepard with the Aurora Police Department, is sniffing around tables and a barbeque at a picnic area outside a police station. After a few minutes, he sits and fixes his gaze on a plastic trash can.

Deuce’s handler, Sgt. Brandon Samuels, removes a one-pound bag of marijuana he planted for the exercise.

“Guh’ boy!” Samuels said, tossing Deuce a rubber toy.

The Aurora Police Department is one of a number of Colorado law enforcement agencies that trains dogs on marijuana, a legal substance in Colorado. Canines at other agencies in the state ignore pot. A recent court decision has drawn attention to that wide range of policies — and left some wondering if pot-sniffing dogs, like Deuce, are overqualified for their jobs.

The core of the matter is Kilo, another pot-sniffing dog with the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office. In 2015, officers deployed Kilo to inspect Kevin McKnight’s truck during a vehicle stop. Officers searched the truck following his alert and found a meth pipe containing white residue. Prosecutors used the evidence to convict McKnight on two counts related to drug possession.

The Colorado Court of Appeals recognized a problem. Like Deuce, Kilo can detect cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine and marijuana. Neither dog can indicate which substance it found or the amount.

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Since certain amounts of marijuana are legal in Colorado, a three-judge panel ruled Kilo’s sniff an illegal search under state law. As a result, the court said the evidence should not have been admitted in the original trial. The decision overturned McKnight’s conviction.

It also established a new precedent: people in Colorado…

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