TAZEWELL, VA (WVNS) — In preparation of the legalization of marijuana in Virginia, law enforcement agencies are now making some changes to their staff.
K9 Officers go through months of extreme training to make rank. They have to learn to detect drugs like marijuana, cocaine. and heroin, but with the legalization of marijuana, some officers are being replaced.
Sgt. Quenton Harris said the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office made the changes last year as marijuana detecting dogs would not be used as often in their department.
“Before the switch, we had two dogs that were trained to detect marijuana along with cocaine, meth and heroin. When we realized that it was going to be decriminalized, there was no longer a criminal element to at least a portion of how much you could have on your person. We sold our dogs, one dog went to another agency in Virginia and the other dog went to an agency in Indiana,” explained Sgt. Harris.
Bia the Beglian Malinois is one of two new K9 officers to the department. Sgt. Harris said Bia is specially trained just like other K9’s, except she was not trained to detect marijuana.
“They can detect things that we can’t even see down to a nanogram. Even we can’t see it but they walk by and can smell it plain as day. It makes our job easier too because they’ll sit like you got on video, she’ll sit right at the car right where it’s located so it helps when we go to search it what area to zone in on,” said Sgt. Harris.
Governor Ralph Northam is expected to sign the bill legalizing marijuana. It would not take effect until 2024.