Imagine if you were trained your whole life to identify one of several items. Now, take one of them away and continue to try to do your job. That's the dilemma facing police dogs trained to sniff out marijuana in Washington.
We followed Deputy Bob Bond and his K-9, Jet. Deputy Bond placed a small amount of cocaine in a KXLY 4 news car to train Jet. The dog, determined to do well so he can have his chew toy, sniffed back and forth, under the car and over the hood with Bond leading him the whole way.
"Find it....check, check, check," Bond said.
In seconds, Jet smells the driver's side door. He sits down, looks at Bond, and then stares at the door.
"And that's his alert," Bond said.
Bond has handled K-9s for 16 years, and Jet for four of those years. Each K-9 was trained to find an assortment of drugs, including marijuana. What was once a gift is now a problem.
"Because you know, it's not illegal in a lot of circumstances," Bond said.
New police dogs in Washington are not being trained to find the scent of pot anymore. Deputies worry the dogs will signal or alert on something that's legal.
"His alert is the same for marijuana as it is for cocaine, as it is for heroin," Bond said. "My dog alerts on the odor, so I don't know how much is in there. It's not like three barks for a pound and one bark for a half a pound."
It can also cause a problem when deputies need a search warrant approved by a judge. Jet's nose used to be enough to get that warrant, but not anymore. The judge may need more proof.
If Jet goes inside a car with a drug warrant because he smelled marijuana and finds another drug, the driver can still be arrested.
It's why new laws presented by I-502 is changing the ways K-9s search cars, but not stopping their purpose.
"They're pretty amazing. You look at that and you think, 'Gosh, that's amazing,'" Bond said.