A K-9 training director in Illinois says if the state legalizes weed, it will have to euthanize "a number" of its dogs.
"At this point, they're trained on five different odors," explained the Normal Police Department's assistant police chief, Steve Petrilli, a former K-9 handler.
"Once they're programmed with that, you can't just deprogram them."
Each dog costs the department thousands of dollars.
"The biggest thing for law enforcement is, you're going to have to replace all of your dogs," Macon County Sheriff Howard Buffett, whose private foundation paid $2.2 million in 2016 to support K-9 units in 33 counties across Illinois, said.
"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."
Replacing the dogs would "cost millions," Chad Larner, the director of Maron County's K-9 Training Academy, said.
Larner told The Pantagraph "retraining" the dogs would be "extreme abuse," which is why it is better to kill them.
Larner explained the dogs are trained to against being social in order to be effective police officers, which is why Larner says "a number" of the dogs would have to be euthanized if marijuana is legalized.
Marijuana advocates say it all amounts to rhetorical hot air.
"The idea that legalizing for adults to have an ounce on them will equal ... all these dogs being euthanized, that seems kind of ridiculous and hyperbolic," the executive director of the advocacy group NORML, Dan Linn, told The Pantagraph.
Petrilli said a better solution would be the K-9s would continue to live with their handlers after they retire.
He says in other states where marijuana has been legalized, K-9s have simply been trained to ignore the smell.
Illinois implemented a medical marijuana pilot program in 2015 with a limited list of qualifying conditions, that is set to expire in 2020, according to the Pantagraph.
Illinois decriminalized small amounts of marijuana in 2016, making possession of up to 10 grams a civil offense with fines ranging from $100 to $200.
Now state lawmakers are considering legalizing recreational marijuana, which would be the tenth state to do so.