Numerous police departments in New Mexico are the latest to lament the retirement of dogs that cannot make the distinction between cannabis—now legal in many states—and illegal drugs. The ramifications of using K9s to sniff out cannabis poses serious legal problems.

On June 29, the Tucumcari Police Department posted a long “eulogy” on Facebook announcing the retirement of Aries, the latest drug-sniffing dog to be retired—blaming the legalization of adult-use cannabis.

“We would like to take a moment to congratulate K9 Aries on his retirement effective today, June 29, 2021,” they wrote. “With the legalization of recreational marijuana, K9 Aries is unable to continue his function as a narcotics detection dog.”

Last May, KOB 4 Investigates featured a piece on how the Farmington Police Department planned to retire all its drug-sniffing dogs. Why? Because using the dogs would legally destroy efforts to establish probable cause.  

“Now marijuana is legal—if the dog alerts on it, and we got a search warrant, we’d be violating somebody’s rights. So that meant the easiest, simplest thing was to just stop using those dogs for that purpose,” said Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe.

New Mexico State Police will be forced to retire all nine of its K9s that were trained

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