Local police departments facing challenges with legalized hemp
Soddy-Daisy police say the legalization of industrial hemp is creating challenges within their department, especially when it comes to the K-9 unit.
They say K-9's trained to detect marijuana cannot tell the difference between legal and illegal strands.
But this may not be a problem Soddy-Daisy is facing alone.
Officer Garrett Bull says other agencies are dealing with it too. Bull and his K-9 Jenga have been partners for the past year.
“You can't un-imprint them,” Bull said. “So she can't say no that's not marijuana.”
Jenga and her training cost about $7,000, which was funded by the city of Soddy-Daisy. She's one of two K-9's at the police department. Jenga specializes in narcotics. She can detect five odors; Marijuana, heroin, meth, ecstasy and cocaine. However, she cannot tell which odor she smells nor can she detect hemp.
In April, Tennessee legislators removed hemp and hemp products from the definition of marijuana, according to SB 357. Because retraining is impossible, Bull says they could face legal challenges and his partnership with Jenga could end.
“I would hate to lose her,” he said. “There would be that risk that we would have to get rid of her or she would be strictly for searching or something else and then get another dog; hopefully get another dog.”
Officers are leaning on legislators to help eliminate confusion. In the meantime, they will continue to rely on the TBI testing.
“We're still going to do our job,” Bull said.
Channel 3 reached out to District Attorney Neal Pinkston for comment on Tuesday. His office was unable to respond at the time our request was sent.