Today in the “Most Ridiculous Things” category we find nearly the worst possible “war on drugs” apologia. I say “nearly” only because it might get worse, though it is difficult to imagine how.
While marijuana legalization gains significant support, prohibition remains popular. There are legitimate arguments against the state embracing weed, however “we should keep arresting you because otherwise our dogs are out of a job” should not be considered among them.
Earlier this week Radley Balko of the Washington Post reported on a story no one thought they wanted to read, “If Illinois Legalizes Marijuana, What Happens to Pot-Sniffing Dogs?” In the midst of the Illinois legislature considering legalization,Warren Buffett’s son is doing all he can to cost the prohibition movement its remaining credibility,
“The biggest thing for law enforcement is, you’re going to have to replace all of your dogs…So to me, it’s a giant step forward for drug dealers, and it’s a giant step backwards for law enforcements and the residents of the community.”
“Warren Buffett’s son?” you ask. Yes, he’s the sheriff of Macon County, Illinois, whose foundation paid over $2 million to train these dogs. That is quite beside the point, however, when you consider the article glossing over a sheriff’s contention that the “biggest thing” for law enforcement is that, upon legalizing a plant, they’ll have to call in new hounds. Additionally, another source claims, some dogs would be euthanized because there would be no alternative. Of course, no one has ever heard the phrase “retired police dog.”
Balko’s article does a fine job of pointing out the flawed logic, and goes on to identify the real problems with drug sniffing dogs; mainly that they’re not very good at drug sniffing, yet they are automatic probable cause to search your car. We have addressed how that can open an entirely different can of worms. Balko has been writing about this topic for ages, and in 2011 wrote a piece for Reason that you should read right now, but he misses another, more fundamental point; the phrase “War on Drugs” indicates sides; good vs. bad, an “us” and a “them” to be fighting against. It is ostensibly a war against substances, not people, but the substances do not suffer, and people do.
A law enforcement officer is telling us that the biggest problem with legalizing this plant is that they need to get new dogs. They will stop throwing people in cages for having the wrong type of plant in their pocket. They will stop tearing apart people’s cars in search of said plant. They will stop telling you that marijuana is equally as vile as methamphetamine and heroin, yet their biggest problem with it is new dogs. The focus does not appear to be on protecting and serving “us”.