Change in state law brings an uncertain future for Ohio’s drug dogs, who can’t be retrained to stop reacting to marijuana and hemp, which smell identical. Parents turn to specially trained drug-sniffing dogs for a discreet way to drug test their children. In my younger days I tried ordering seeds from some random place on the net, and sadly had them confiscated. In the pleasant letter that received instead…
Is it hemp or is it pot? Drug dogs can’t say
Can you teach an old dog new tricks? And is it worth it to try?
Those are questions police departments across the state will be forced to ask themselves, now that Ohio’s new hemp-legalization law has cast a cloud over drug-sniffing dogs’ ability to provide “probable cause” to conduct drug searches.
Get the news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our morning, afternoon and evening newsletters
Because marijuana and hemp are both from the cannabis plant and smell identical, dogs can’t tell the difference, so both the Ohio Highway Patrol and the Columbus Division of Police are suspending marijuana-detection training for new police dogs to uncomplicate probable cause issues in court.
“The decision to stop imprinting narcotic detection canines with the odor of marijuana was based on several factors,” including that the “odor of marijuana and the odor of hemp are the same,” said Highway Patrol spokesman Staff Lt. Craig Cvetan.
Once a dog has been trained to detect a certain narcotic, they can’t be retrained to stop reacting to that odor, Cvetan said. As for the 31 narcotic-detection canines currently deployed by the patrol, “we are evaluating what impact the hemp legislation may have.”
Most dogs are trained to hit on more than one drug — including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. But they react the same way no matter which drug they smell, Cvetan said.
That means officers have no idea if the dog is hitting on legal hemp or heroin, said Dan Sabol, a Columbus criminal-defense lawyer.
“It’s very problematic for probable cause,” Sabol said.
Sabol compared the situation to a dog trained to detect both illegal drugs and fast food, with police using any dog hits on either as the probable cause to search someone on suspicion of illegal drugs.
“Do you think that would be sufficient to conduct a search?” Sabol said. “Of course not.”
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishes the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” requiring probable cause, or sufficient knowledge to believe that someone is committing a crime, before police can conduct a search.
“From a practical standpoint, (marijuana) is the vast majority of hits,” Sabol said. “That’s the most commonly used drug of abuse — or maybe not of ‘abuse,’ depending on the circumstances now.”
Those new circumstances include that about 45,000 people in Ohio have received a recommendation from a doctor to use medical marijuana.
In a memo sent Wednesday to his officers, interim Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan said the department’s “K-9 units will be releasing new policies and procedures so we limit hits on cars that might be THC based. I had already directed the next 2 K-9s we train will not be certified to alert on THC.”
Quinlan’s memo was in response to Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein announcing Wednesday that he will no longer prosecute misdemeanor marijuana possession citations, citing an inability of crime labs to distinguish hemp from marijuana. All pending cases were dismissed.
Klein’s office laid down new rules on searches in a memo sent to police on Wednesday, including that “a vehicle may not be searched solely because a K-9 trained to alert to marijuana, alerted to the vehicle.”
If a police officer smells “suspected burning marijuana,” this is still probable cause for a search, because “it is exceedingly unlikely anyone is smoking hemp,” the memo said. But “if the person claims they are smoking hemp,” the officer should assess the totality of the circumstances.
And when police officers smell what they think is raw pot, “this is far more legally problematic because there is no way for an officer to discern between the odor of raw marijuana and the odor of raw hemp.” Therefore, an officer smelling raw cannabis alone is no longer probable cause for a search, Klein’s office advised, noting that these are all “legal guesses,” as “there is no relevant case law in Ohio.”
Rebecca Gilbert, search teams coordinator with the K9 Global Training Academy in Somerset, Texas, said retraining police dogs to stop giving hits on cannabis, while possible, wouldn’t be cheap or easy — and depending on the dog, might not work at all.
Basically, trainers would have to stop using positive prompts as rewards for finding pot — after a dog has already been raised to believe that is a very positive thing to find, she said.
“A dog that’s been trained on marijuana for a couple years, it’s going to be very hard,” Gilbert said. “That initial odor that they’ve been trained to use, that’s embedded.”
During a recent training session where dogs searched lockers at a Texas high school, one of Gilbert’s pot-sniffing dogs hit on CBD oil, she said. The hemp law made CBD legal in Ohio and it is being sold at gas stations and other retailers in Columbus.
Police dogs are going to be detecting these legal products because if a dog can pick out 2 grams of marijuana in a car, “imagine 45 bales of (hemp) in an 18-wheeler,” Gilbert said.
Quinlan’s memo went into other problems with Ohio’s hemp law in addition to the dog-training issue.
Under the new state law, cannabis that is less than 0.3% THC, the intoxicating ingredient, is now considered legal hemp, which until 1937 was routinely used to make rope, clothing and other products. Columbus police do not currently have equipment to test the level of THC, so they can’t currently say what is hemp and what isn’t.
“The equipment needed to conduct this test costs $250,000,” Quinlan wrote in his memo. “Doesn’t make sense for a $10 citation,” the new Columbus fine for less than 3.5 ounces of pot.
Dogs Sniff Scent of Drugs on Teens
Parents turn to dogs for discreet way to detect their kids’ drug use.
Oct. 22, 2008 — — Ali is a highly trained German shepherd that spent eight years on narcotics patrol with the New Jersey police force, hunting down drug smugglers at airports and drug dealers on inner-city streets. Post-retirement, he’s working in the private sector, sniffing teenagers’ bedrooms.
Ali and his handler are now working for a new company in New Jersey called Sniff Dogs.
The company, which also conducts business in Ohio, rents drug-sniffing canines to parents for $200 an hour. It was started this year by Debra Stone, who says her five trained dogs can detect heroin, cocaine, crystal meth and ecstasy.
The dogs’ noses are so sensitive that they can smell a marijuana seed from up to 15 feet away and marijuana residue on clothing from drugs smoked two nights before.
One of the selling points of this service? Avoiding the kind of confrontation that comes with a drug test.
Watch “World News With Charles Gibson” tonight at 6:30 ET for the full report.
Pat Winterstein of Washington, N.J., was curious about the unusual specialty and turned to the dogs to search her teenagers’ bedrooms.
“Most kids will deny it and then where do you turn?” said Winterstein, who has three children, the youngest of whom is 14. “Not knowing is worrisome. It’s nice to know you can have something you can turn to.”
The dogs did not find any drugs this time, but Winterstein says she’ll keep doing the tests periodically, if necessary, to ensure that her children stay free of drugs.
Though critics say this approach runs the risk of breaking down the trust between parents and children, Winterstein says it offers her solace.
“As a parent you worry,” she said. “My kids are great. I trust my kids, but you only can trust them so far.”
Drug-sniffing dogs aren’t the only measures parents are using to keep tabs on their children. There are now Global Positioning System devices that can be sewn into children’s clothing to monitor how fast they’re driving, and software that allows a parent to read text messages.
But some psychologists say these surveillance techniques can backfire.
“There are major repercussions for this type of intervention,” said Dr. Neil Bernstein, a Washington, D.C.-based clinical psychologist and author of the book “How to Keep Your Teen Out of Trouble.”
“When parents do this it erodes trust and goodwill.”
Drug Dogs May Spot Warning Signs
Melinda Bennington of Chatham, N.J., wishes that she had dogs to help her see the warnings signs before it was too late. Her son Tom died of a heroin overdose two years ago.
“Had I known that in eighth grade he had actually already started snorting heroin, I probably would have done some things differently,” she said in retrospect.
As parents, Bennington and Winterstein agree that checking up on children is not only a parent’s right, but a responsibility.
“They’re kids, young adults — they’re going to make [a] mistake,” Winterstein said. “And I just want them to know that I’m here for them and that I’m doing my job to love and protect them. This is my way of protecting them.”
Can dogs sniff out seeds?
In my younger days I tried ordering seeds from some random place on the net, and sadly had them confiscated. In the pleasant letter that received instead of my seeds, it claimed that they were detected by a k-9. I just recently tried ordering some seeds again. This time, instead of going with the first site I found, I’m trying drchronic after the praise that I’ve seen for them here. I just wanted to know if dogs really can detect cannabis seeds? As a difference between the two sites though, the first place I don’t even think repacked the seeds. Is it possible the dog just smelt pack they were in?
you have to imagine that the people who package the seeds are working around pot all day. the entire package comes from a place filled with potent weed. if i was a dog i would know.
It was probably just a form letter, I would think the seeds has some smell from any oils but with them being packaged and in a ziplock little baggie I would doubt it. They were found from unstealthy shipping, You should be ok with the good Dr.
100% Authentic A$$Hole
100% Authentic A$$Hole
I know this is old but I have to say something. My local post office gets random visits by the local K-9 Unit. They use the dog to check random packages and if the dog hits on a package they come to your house with a U.S. Postal Investigator and tell you to either let them open the package in front of you or they will get a warrant. They did it to me and I didnt even have anything in it. It was a package I was sending to a client that buys tropical trees from me and the dog was able to smell pot on the package just from having the packing materials near a little smoke! The worst part is they kept the package for 2 weeks before they even came and both my clents trees were dead and there was nothing I could do about it! Sure I could have tried to sue but it wouldnt get anywhere. The trees I raise and sell are worth a lot of money too. If a dog can smell bud on a package from just having it in the same vicinity as herb you can bet your bottom dollar a K-9 officer can smell seeds. The only way I know of fooling a dog is by sealing very well in multiple sealed plastics and in the outside layer line it with exotic hot pepper juice. Im not talking jalapeno’s or habanero’s either. Im saying Carolina Reapers, or Trinidad Moruga Scorpions! I raise both. Hottest peppers in the world. Ghost Chili’s havent been the hottest pepper since 2012.