In a move that showcases the national spread of cannabis normalization, police dogs in Vermont — in anticipation of the state’s likely legalization of marijuana — are no longer being trained to recognize the plant’s smell.

Robert Ryan, head K-9 training coordinator for Vermont, told The Times Argus that the change was actually first proposed last year, though not put into effect until this year’s course.

Currently, Vermont is poised to become one of the first states in the nation to legalize cannabis through legislative action, not a voter initiative. Legislation to such an end is expected to soon appear in the state Senate for discussion.

Cannabis, because of its potent odor, is easier than most other substances for dogs to learn to detect, Ryan explained. “If for some reason it doesn’t become legalized, it’s an odor that [dogs] can be trained to alert on later,” he said.

“The dogs that are already trained to smell marijuana are still going to be used,” Ryan said, though they would be reserved only for situations where cannabis would still be worth detecting — like prisons and public schools, for example.


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