Colorado’s highest court ruled Monday that police using K9s trained to alert to marijuana now require more evidence about a suspected crime before they can use dogs in a search.
In a 4-3 ruling, the Colorado Supreme Court found that under the state constitution, a dog trained to alert to marijuana cannot be used before an officer establishes probable cause that a crime had been committed. Previously, officers only needed to suspect that a crime had occurred — a much lower standard.
For decades, police dogs were trained to alert to pot. But after Coloradans voted in 2012 to legalize recreational possession of small amounts of the substance, the dogs’ sniff tests in the state have become controversial because they can alert even if a person has a legal amount of marijuana.