Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks: Marijuana Legalization Sends Drug-Sniffing Dogs Into Early Retirement

Earlier this month, medical marijuana was legalized in Missouri. Medical marijuana legalization threatens the use of drug dogs trained to detect marijuana in the state.

Are the Dog Days Over?

Any search of a vehicle must be supported by probable cause. The officer must be able to point to facts or circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to believe evidence or contraband relating to criminal activity will be found in the vehicle. Law enforcement in all states employ highly trained drug detection dogs to sniff vehicles stopped by police.

In Florida v. Harris (2013), the Supreme Court of the United States issued a unanimous decision that a drug dog’s training and certification are adequate indicators of his reliability, and a dog’s alert provides probable cause to search a vehicle.

Last year, the Colorado Court of Appeals set a new precedent for drug cases. A panel of three judges ruled that officers using drug dogs trained to sniff marijuana and other drugs need a stronger reason to search a car without permission.

The ruling stemmed from a 2015 case involving a narcotics dog, Kilo. Kilo alerted to the smell of illegal drugs from a man’s truck. But Kilo was trained to detect marijuana, among other drugs. The Colorado Court of Appeals overturned the man’s drug conviction, and ruled that Kilo could not tell the officers whether he smelled marijuana or another drug in the man’s truck.

Next month, the Colorado Supreme Court will review the Court of Appeals decision.

You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks.

You can’t tell a Police K-9 who has been trained to detect marijuana to ignore marijuana just because it is legal now. Approximately 20% of all drug dogs in the United States are trained to detect marijuana. Now they are forced into early retirement. Older dogs, even if they undergo training to stop reacting to marijuana, would still face intense scrutiny to prove if they made a false hit. Any criminal defense attorney is going to ask, “Has your dog ever alerted to marijuana?”

In Canada, where retail marijuana sales began last month, 14 narcotics dogs were retired.

But New Dogs Can Learn New Tricks.

Some states, such as California, Oregon, Maine, and Vermont, have been training their drug dogs to detect cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and ecstasy. But not marijuana.

The President of Colorado’s Police K-9 Association revealed that most drug dogs cost between $6,000 to $10,000 alone, and that’s without training. Small departments just cannot afford to replace these high-priced marijuana-trained dogs with non-marijuana certified dogs. In the meantime, these small units can wait until they build up the funding to replace their drug dogs with non-marijuana certified dogs.

These small departments have a few other options. First, they can keep using their marijuana trained dogs and take their chances in court. Second, they can transfer the dog to places in the state where marijuana is still off limits, such as schools and jails. Third, they can work with law enforcement in states where marijuana is still illegal to put the drug dogs back on the road detecting marijuana.

It will be interesting to see whether law enforcement in Missouri replace their marijuana-trained dogs or keep using them. We will continue monitoring Missouri courts to see if they rule on this issue.

Source.

Guns and Medical Marijuana: You Can’t Have It All, Despite Amendment 2

This week, medical marijuana was legalized in Missouri. But those with a medical marijuana license jeopardize their Second Amendment right to buy and possess a gun. It is illegal to buy a firearm with a medical marijuana license. Also, it is illegal to sell a firearm or ammunition to someone with a medical marijuana license.

Illegal to Buy Firearm with Medical Marijuana License

Missourians with a medical marijuana card are required to answer “yes,” on the question 11.e on the ATF Firearm Transaction Record, Form 4473. That question is, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”

Right below that question, the ATF posts a warning in bold letters that there is no exception under federal law for medicinal marijuana. Click here to read the ATF Firearm Transaction Form. 

Illegal to Sell a Firearm or Ammunition to Someone with a Medical Marijuana License

To make matters worse, it is a violation of federal law to sell firearm or ammunition to anyone that the buyer know or has cause to believe is an “unlawful user.” A state-issued medical marijuana license counts as reasonable cause to believe the person is an unlawful user under federal law.

This means that gun shops and other dealers can be prosecuted for selling a firearm to a person that has a medical marijuana license.

That law applies to everyone, not just businesses. Federal law makes it unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person that has a medical marijuana license. Click here to read that federal law, 18 U.S.C. 922(d)(3).

With these big changes to Missouri’s medical marijuana law, combined with the strict federal ban, there will likely be an increase in the number of people charged and prosecuted with selling a firearm illegally or buying and possessing a firearm illegally in Southwest Missouri.

Source.

Springfield, Mo. Criminal Defense Firm Law Office of Adam Woody Receives Two Prestigious Awards

We are honored to announce two recent awards for the Law Office of Adam Woody.  Just this week, it was announced that the Law Office of Adam Woody has been named by the U.S. News and World Report and Best Lawyers in the Ninth Edition of the “Best Law Firms” rankings for the first time.  It was also announced that Adam Woody has once again been chosen for recognition in the 25th edition of The Best Lawyers in America for his high caliber work in the practice area of DUI/DWI Defense.  Inclusion in Best Lawyers is based on rigorous peer-review survey methodology comprising more than 7.8 million confidential evaluations by top attorneys.

We are thrilled with our inclusion in these two prestigious lists and will continue to provide our area with the highest level criminal defense legal service available.