Republicans Are Worried Legalizing Weed Will Put Police Dogs Out of Work

There’s no indication that any dogs are upset about it.
Midge, a 6-pound Chihuahua/Rat Terrier mix who is the newest member of the Geauga County, Ohio Sheriff Department's K-9 unit, naps on June 6, 2006. The 7-month-old pup is being trained to sniff out marijuana and eventually other narcotics. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta

Republicans desperate to save K-9s’ jobs following weed legalization seem to have forgotten that unemployment is, in fact, the default for dogs. 

Minnesota’s House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday night that would make non-medical weed legal in the state for people 21 and older. The 300-page bill passed by a vote of 71-59. 


In the discussion leading up to the vote, Republican state Rep. Brian Johnson, who wasn’t in favor of the bill, said he was concerned about the cost of getting rid of police departments’ furry, four-legged snitches. 

“I did not see anything reading through the bill dealing with our K-9 units,” Johnson said.  

“Can you tell me how much money is in this bill to help defer the cost to our counties and police departments for the cost of the retirement of the dogs?” 

It’s not the first time politicians and cops have raised the issue, and dozens of K-9s around the country have retired as various states have legalized weed. Some police departments are bringing on dogs that aren’t trained to identify weed. The legal cannabis industry has already created hundreds of thousands of jobs, though none for dogs who, unlike us, aren’t cogs in the capitalist machine.  

In February, Minnesota State Sen. John Jasinski, a Republican, brought up “the police dog discussion” during a committee hearing.

“What it’s gonna cost our law enforcement agencies who’ve… spent thousands and thousands of dollars on these dogs to get these dogs drug trained, and now they're going to have to be retired. That’s a big issue. That’s a huge cost right there,” he said. 

Training a police dog can cost between $12,000 to $15,000, according to police website Police1. In addition to that, there’s the salary of their handler—aka a human officer. 

But not everyone would be sad to see K-9s go. In fact, some criminal justice experts have been calling for an end to using police dogs, given their racist legacy—dogs were used to chase slaves—and brutal attacks. According to the Marshall Project, victims of police dog bites are disproportionately Black men. 

So what happens to retired police dogs? Many are adopted by their handlers to become pets. They don’t receive pensions, but some organizations have funds to pay for their medical bills. 

While we can’t say for sure how retired K-9s adjust to life off the force, they’re probably  happy to be sniffing other dogs’ butts instead of drugs. 

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