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.

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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.

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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.

Change in Missouri Sex Offender Registry Law Could Allow Some Sex Offenders to Remove Name from the Statewide Registry

Under old Missouri law, both a serial rapist and a person charged with misdemeanor sexual misconduct (public urination in some cases) would be placed on the state’s Sex Offender Registry for life. The Registry’s burdensome reporting requirements applied to both people, including reporting to a police station four times every year. Everyone was lumped together. It was one of the toughest Registry laws in the country.

Under the old Missouri statute, if you were ordered to register federally, then you were always required to register under Missouri law for life. Period.

But it didn’t work the other way around. If you were eligible for removal from the federal registry, which was a different system with an easier method of removal, you did not have a method to get removed from the Missouri registry. Even though there was a method to get removed from the registry, appellate courts denied removal under the old Missouri statute.  That is no longer the cases, and thousands of people required to register previously are now immediately eligible for removal from the registry.

New Missouri Law

Senate Bill 665 became effective in August, and transformed Missouri’s system from being “one size fits all” to a “tiered system,” which mirrors the federal system.

Under Missouri’s new tiered system, a Tier I offense is eligible for removal after fifteen years of the date of conviction and twenty-five years for a Tier II offense. A Tier III offense is only eligible for removal if it was a juvenile adjudication and is eligible after twenty-five years from the date of conviction. Source.

After a person passes the fifteen or twenty-five year mark, they are not automatically removed from the registry. They must petition the court and a judge will make the final decision.  They must have a completely clean record during that time, and must have been faithfully registering pursuant to law.

Additionally, the new Missouri law changed the reporting requirements based on Tiers. Under the new law, Tier I offenders have to visit law enforcement annually, Tier II offenders will be required to update their information every six months, and Tier III offenders must check in four times per year.

Purpose of the Change

The sponsor of the new law, St. Charles Republican State Representative Kurt Bahr, explained that the purpose of the new law is to “create[] a little less burden on the local law enforcement agency so that they’re not spending all their time on these guys who are typically lower-threat people and they have more time to focus on the tier three offenders.” Source.

With these big changes to Missouri’s sex offender registry laws, there will likely be a huge spike in the number of low-level sex offenders who request removal from the registry in Southwest Missouri.

Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody Weighs in on Brad Bradshaw’s Medical Marijuana Lawsuits

Springfield Attorney Brad Bradshaw wants to make sure his medical marijuana initiative, Amendment 3, is the only one voters see on ballots for Missouri’s November election.

Bradshaw has filed suit to remove two other medical marijuana initiatives from the ballot, but time may not be on his side. Bradshaw challenged the signature count for Proposition C and the legality of the signatures for Amendment 2.

A Cole County Judge in Jefferson City dismissed the lawsuit against Amendment 2. Bradshaw has appealed that decision to the Western District Court of Appeals.

Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody was interviewed by KOLR 10 and noted Bradshaw’s time constraints for challenging the initiatives. The election is only around 8 weeks away. It could take several weeks to get the case before the Western District. If Bradshaw loses in the Western District, he plans to take it to the Missouri Supreme Court, which would take even longer.  The ballots have to be prepared a couple of weeks in advance so Bradshaw really only has about 6 weeks to work the case all the way through the appellate system…an incredibly short amount of time to accomplish such a feat.

Bradshaw’s Amendment 3 is self-funded with $1 million dollars, self-written, and riddled with controversy. It would create a Biomedical Research and Development Institute.  That research institute would then get 15% of the total sales of medicinal marijuana statewide, which is the highest tax on such a product by far across the 31 states who have legalized marijuana for medicinal use.  The head of that Board must have both a law degree and a medical degree and the head of the board hand selects the other board members.  Obviously, Bradshaw is one of the few people in the State to have a J.D. and M.D., so he would likely plans to be named as the head of the board.   Source.

Amendment 2 is sponsored by New Approach Missouri, and taxes medicinal marijuana at 4%.  Those tax dollars would go toward state-sponsored or not-for-profit veterans organizations.

Right now, all three initiatives are on the ballot and it looks like it will stay that way. Stay tuned for more developments on the medical marijuana initiatives.

Click here to watch the full interview.

Springfield, Mo. Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody Weighs in on Federal Duck Boat Investigation

All eyes were on Southwest Missouri this summer when 17 people died while riding the ducks on Table Rock Lake. Predictably, families of those killed began filing lawsuits against Ride the Ducks and its owner, Ripley Entertainment.

Now, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri is attempting to intervene in the civil cases.

Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody sat down with KOLR10 to discuss that move.

Attorney Woody explained that the evidence and witnesses in the civil lawsuits are identical to the criminal investigation and lawsuits. The Government does not want witness statements or other evidence to get into the hands of the possible defendants, which would help them prepare and coordinate defenses in advance of any criminal indictment. Halting the civil cases will prevent both sides of the civil lawsuits from talking to those witnesses or accessing any of the evidence while the Government investigates and decides its next steps. Woody explained that, if the cases are stayed by the Court to allow the Government time to investigate, then he would expect the defense to try to have the cases dismissed for failure to proceed in a timely manner.

Stay tuned to find out whether the Government decides to take further action against Ride the Ducks or its employees.

To watch the full story and interview, click here.

Springfield Criminal Attorney Adam Woody Featured on KY3 News Discussing Dismissed Polk County Murder Case

A Polk County Circuit Judge dropped a second-degree murder charge against a Southwest Missouri woman based on a new statute that was originally designed to combat the nationwide opioid epidemic.

In Bolivar, Missouri, Danielle Baker was charged with second degree murder after the formerly registered nurse was accused of supplying liquid morphine and other controlled substances to her 15-year-old son, who died of an overdose in March. The morphine was traced back to a prescription for a patient who had died at the healthcare facility where Baker worked, and she admitted to taking the morphine.

But the Polk County Judge found that, under a new immunity law, there was no felony technically committed because her son had immunity and she had immunity because she called for medical help on his behalf.  The new law allows those who overdose, or someone on their behalf, to call for medical help without the fear of criminal charges.

Click here to watch criminal defense attorney Adam Woody’s interview discussing the new statute with KY3.

Stay tuned to see how this new law impacts felony murder cases in Southwest Missouri arising from someone calling for medical help during an overdose.

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