In a 4-3 ruling, Colorado’s Supreme Court voted police need probable cause before employing pot-sniffing dogs to search for drugs.
- The case could lead to early retirement for many of the state’s drug sniffing dogs.
More significantly, the unusually spirited dissent by Chief Justice Nathan B. Coats, suggests the ruling could undermine the state experiments with legal cannabis.
“I am particularly concerned that in going to such lengths to craft a rationale for imposing limitations on the use of drug detection dogs, the majority unwittingly exposes not only the marijuana initiative itself but even the state’s constitutional Bill of Rights to a much greater risk of federal preemption than would previously have been the case.”
Per the Colorado Sun:
“Preemption” is the boogeyman that has hovered over Colorado’s marijuana legalization since its inception. When state and federal law are irreconcilably in conflict with one another, federal law wins and state law gets struck down. That’s what preemption means — if it comes, it’s the end of marijuana legalization in Colorado.
In short, the ruling could disrupt the equilibrium which allows state cannabis laws to co-exist with federal prohibition.
- Legal experts are divided on whether the ruling will have far-reaching implications.