Marijuana in Michigan: How will police K-9s fit?


WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — They track criminals, protect their human partners and sniff out illegal drugs, and all they ask for in return is to chase their favorite ball.  

“I don't know what we'd do without them. I mean that. It's just a huge part of what we do,” Wyoming Department of Public Safety Capt. Kip Snyder said as K-9 Azar chased a ball around a conference room. 

Azar is one of four dogs on the Wyoming force whose future is in question now that recreational marijuana is legal in Michigan.

Wyoming and several other police departments across West Michigan with K-9s are watching the courts in other states where recreational marijuana has been approved. At issue is the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

Dogs like Azar are trained to find drugs. But they can't tell the difference between an illegal drug like cocaine and a now-legal drug like marijuana.

That problem has led judges in other parts of the country to question whether the dogs can provide reasonable cause for a search warrant.

While communities in other parts of the country and Canada are talking early retirement for police dogs, departments in West Michigan are taking a wait-and-see approach.

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