Police Dogs, Marijuana, and Hemp

Marijuana and Hemp derive from the cannabis plant and smell identical. Police dogs who have been trained to sniff out drugs, can’t tell the difference. This causes a problem in Ohio due to the new hemp-legalization law. The Ohio Highway Patrol and Columbus Division of Police have suspended marijuana-detection training for new police dogs.

“The decision to stop imprinting narcotic detection canines with the odor of marijuana was based on several factors… the odor of marijuana and the odor of hemp are the same,” said Highway Patrol spokesman Staff Lt. Craig Cvetan.

Most dogs are trained to identify more than one drug, but they react the same way no matter which drug they smell, said Cvetan. Once a dog has been trained to detect a certain narcotic, they can’t be retrained to stop reacting to that odor.

That means officers have no idea if the dog is hitting on legal hemp or heroin, said Dan Sabol, a Colombus criminal-defense lawyer. This leads to problems with probable cause.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein announced in a memo on Wednesday, August 7, 2019, that he will no longer be prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana possession citations as the labs could not distiguish hemp from marijuana. Klein also said in the memo that “a vehicle may not be searched solely because a K-9 trained to alert to marijuana, alerted to the vehicle.”

This new Ohio state law says that cannabis that is less than 0.3% THC, is now considered legal hemp. Colombus police do not have the equipment to test the level of THC, so it is not possible to determine what is hemp and what isn’t at this time.

Frank T. Luciano is familiar with courts in Bergen, Passaic, and Hudson Counties. He is familiar with possession of marijuana, heroin, and cocaine cases. He is ready to get started on your case with his 40 years of experience. Call 973-471-0004 to begin with an initial consultation.

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