Photo: Ed Andrieski/AP/NPR

A report from the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus revealed that Vermont’s police force has stopped training its police dogs to detect the odor of marijuana.

According to the Times Argus, this is the first year that marijuana detection has not been part of the regular training of the state’s police dogs. The paper reported that the decision was partially influenced by the likelihood that Vermont will legalize marijuana in the near future, which would lead to the possibility that re-training police dogs to cease detecting marijuana would exhaust additional time and resources.

Montpelier Police Chief Anthony Facos explained that if Vermont legalizes marijuana, “All local and state dogs would need to be replaced at significant cost to the state police and to municipalities that would have to get new dogs that were not trained to alert for marijuana.”

Robert Ryan, the K-9 training coordinator in Vermont, noted that “if for some reason it doesn’t become legalized, it’s an odor that (dogs) can be trained to alert on later.”

Dogs currently trained to detect marijuana would still be used in the state for regulatory purposes such as searches at high schools and prisons, and also for police work at the federal level.

Vermont’s legalization bill continued to move forward on Friday, as the Senate Finance Committee approved the bill 6-1.

The bill, sponsored by Democrat Sen. Jeanette K. White, would legalize the possession of marijuana for individuals over the age of 21, and implement a “controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores,” according to MyChamplainValley.com.

The Burlington Free Press reported that the Finance Committee decided to propose a 25 per cent tax for marijuana, and changed the original proposed legal amount of possession from one ounce to a half-ounce.

The Times Argus reported that the state Senate may vote on the bill as soon as next week.