Illinois Police Dog Trainer Warns: We May Euthanize Our Drug Dogs If You Legalize Weed

Behold, the worst argument against legalizing marijuana.


National Lampoon

I have found the worst argument against legal marijuana. Chad Larner, training director of a police K-9 academy, claims that if Illinois legalizes pot, the state just might have to kill some of its roughly 275 pot-sniffing dogs.

The Pantagraph reports:

"The biggest thing for law enforcement is, you're going to have to replace all of your dogs," said Macon County Sheriff Howard Buffett, whose private foundation paid $2.2 million in 2016 to support K-9 units in 33 counties across Illinois. "So to me, it's a giant step forward for drug dealers, and it's a giant step backwards for law enforcements and the residents of the community."…

Replacing all of the K-9 units in the state would cost millions, which Buffett said would fall on each individual law enforcement agency.

Because many K-9s are trained not to be social so their work won't be affected, Larner said a number of dogs would likely have to be euthanized.

If you don't keep weed illegal, we'll kill this dog, to put it in the style of the famous National Lampoon cover.

The cops' concerns here may be a bit more self-interested than they're letting on. You see, training police dogs costs a lot of money. Up to $20,000 per animal, not including ongoing food and kenneling costs. But drug-sniffing dogs bring in cash through civil asset forfeiture. Every time an Illinois drug dog hits paydirt during a traffic stop, police get to seize cash and cars. On a heavy drug-trafficking corridor, a K-9 unit can be a revenue-generating machine. For example, Illinois state and local police seized $72 million in cash and other property in 2014 and 2015, according to public records obtained by Reason.

In 2016, Illinois decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, but larger amounts are still a felony offense. If marijuana is fully legalized, not only would that justification for asset forfeiture dry up, but all those current K-9 units couldn't suddenly be trained to not detect pot, making them questionable, if not totally useless, for the purpose of establishing probable cause for police searches.

And wouldn't it be a shame if all those dogs, and police, had to find other activities to fill their time besides busting weed dealers?