KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) – The legalization of recreational marijuana in Missouri is causing some drug-sniffing police dogs to retire early or shift to other duties. It is now legal to possess 3 ounces or less of marijuana in Missouri.
Three KCPD canines that were originally trained to detect marijuana and other illegal drugs will no longer be used for narcotics searches only patrol duties following the change in Missouri marijuana laws. Once funding is available, they will be retired and replaced with dual-purpose canines that can search for narcotics other than marijuana and patrol. Funding for the purchase of new dual-purpose canines has not been identified at this time.
“I’ve been working with Mike for over three years. He’s a five-and-a-half-year-old Belgian Malinois,” KCPD Police Officer, K-9 Handler Yale Acton said. “He was a very successful dog in the three years I got to work with him.”
KCPD K9 Mike is being retired. His handler, Officer Acton, says typically police canines are retired when they are 8-10 years old. “So that they can spend the last few years of their life just being a dog and enjoying it,” Acton said. “Mike being 5 and 1/2 years old, he’s still full of spit and vinegar and high drive. Very energetic.”
The KCPD Canine Section and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office began preparing for a change in Missouri marijuana laws. “The good news is they retire with their handler. They retire with the person they’ve worked with the whole time,” Clay County Sheriff Public Relations Manager Sarah Boyd said. “They just get to hang out and be a pet.”
Seven-year-old K-9 Blaze was Clay County’s last patrol dog that was trained to detect marijuana. K-9 Blaze retired this month. “Based on the change in the law, we had anticipated that,” Boyd said. “The last two years we have not been training our canines on the scent of marijuana. You can always add a scent in later for a dog to train on. You can never take one away.”