On Wednesday, the Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that will set standards for the use of police dogs’ drug-detection skills in this state — and could have repercussions across the country.
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Beaker the Belgian Malinois was only 7 years old when changing marijuana laws led his handler to hang up the dog’s police vest.
Beaker, like many police dogs across the country, is trained to alert his handler when he smells marijuana. But his signal for pot is the same as it is for other drugs, such as heroin or meth, said Arvada police Officer Brian Laas, the dog’s handler.
That’s a problem in Colorado, because K-9 handlers can’t tell whether the dog is alerting them to the presence of an illegal substance or legal amounts of weed, and police need probable cause that a crime has been committed before searching further.