This article originally appeared on VICE Quebec.
The fifteen sniffer dogs belonging to the RCMP's road safety team will be sent packing after the legalization of cannabis, the police force says.
The dogs were trained to detect weed, which should be legal by the fall, making them redundant.
The animals will be sold to other police agencies around the world where cannabis is still illegal, says RCMP Senior Police Dog Training Officer Sergeant Gary Creed. Older dogs, generally those over the age of seven, will be retired from service.
"These dogs often work on the roads and when they smell drugs we have to search the vehicle," he says. "After legalization, an arrest made in this way could be called into question, so we have to change the dogs. "
But fear not, scary looking pups, there's new jobs on the way.
New police dogs for the unit will begin their training before the summer and should be in service by January.
The majority of dogs in the federal police service, about 140 animals, will continue to be trained to detect cannabis since the RCMP will still be targeting the black market.
"It does not change the general service teams, because in the vast majority of cases, dogs are called to search a scene when a warrant has already been issued or when there has been an arrest," says Creed. In these cases, the discovery of cannabis by a sniffer dog would therefore simply be ignored by the police if it is not a criminal offense.
Quebec's provincial police force does not anticipate major changes. "Dogs will always be useful near legalization. Without going into details, there will still be illegal production and we will have to intervene," Lieutenant Hugo Fournier told VICE Quebec. "We do not move until the laws are passed. We do not want to invite ourselves into the legalization debate."
The same goes for Montreal's police force, where "no changes are expected with regard to the canine squad."
At the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the training of detector dogs will also not be affected by the legalization of cannabis. "The role of the sniffer dog remains the same," says CBSA spokesman Nicholas Dorion. Under the proposed Cannabis Act, the import and export of cannabis will still be illegal in Canada unless it has a valid permit issued by the Government of Canada. As is currently the case, permits are issued for specific purposes only: medical, scientific or industrial, such as hemp. "
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