As lawmakers in Illinois contemplate making the state the 10th in the nation to legalize the recreational adult use of marijuana, one local sheriff has found himself in a bit of a hotbox.
Macon County Sheriff Howard Buffett and his allies went on the record late last week and made the implication that if weed is made legal in the Prairie State they might have to start murdering dogs and it’ll be the potheads’ fault.
In 2016 the state decriminalized the possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis and that same year Howard’s private foundation donated well over $2 million to staff 33 counties across the state with K-9 dog units. That’s right, the sheriff has a private foundation that can dole out a couple mill at a time. So, Howard says, if those highly trained dogs aren’t allowed to alert on cannabis anymore, well, why keep them around?
If his name sounds familiar, it’s because Howard Buffett is the son of multi-gazillionaire investor Warren Buffett. But whereas his father is widely regarded as a genius in his own right, ol’ Howard is rightfully catching some flak for his comments.
There are currently 275 coppo doggos on the force around Illinois, and they are typically trained to search for five distinct drug profiles, one of which being cannabis. The cost to acquire and properly train just one K-9 unit is approximately $20,000 and Buffett is convinced that they cannot be retrained, or taught to “un-learn” the smell of weed, so in his eyes, they are on the verge of uselessness.
He warns that they are not trained to be social animals and says they cannot assimilate to life off duty in an adoptive home.
The fact of the matter is that these dogs are often cross-trained to not only be drug sniffers but to aid in suspect or missing person searches as well – tasks that would be completely unaffected by any sort of sensible cannabis law change. They can also still be used in jails and prisons, where cannabis legalization stops at the gate regardless of the state.
Furthermore, these dogs are retired all the time around the country for a variety of reasons, and they are not just instantly euthanized. They often live the rest of their days with their handlers and there are plenty of cases of them fitting in just fine with entirely new adoptive families.
Chad Larner runs a K-9 training center in Macon County, and he sides with Buffett, saying that even attempting to re-train the dogs would amount to “extreme abuse”. Larner was the one who speculated that mass euthanization might be an option.
So, what is their motivation?
Surely they don’t want the dogs to die any more than anyone else does, so why the hyperbolic language?
Howard Buffett published a book earlier this year titled Our 50 State Border Crisis. In the book, he claims to have studied the impact of cannabis legalization on the society in Colorado. According to Buffett – and against all other trusted and vetted studies and reporting – Colorado is suffering more fatal accidents, higher youth usage, and cartels and crime syndicates are taking over and selling reefer on the black market.
Of course, none of that is true.
Law enforcement departments from around the country reacted to the headlines out of Macon County with shock, laying out many of the same arguments we have listed here above.
Marcell Patterson is the canine coordinator for the Oakland Police Department in Cali and when he was asked about Buffett and Larner’s absurd claims he replied, “Let’s get one thing straight: the handlers love their dogs. I’ve never seen a case where a handler didn’t want their dog.”
Cool, but let’s get another thing straight.
We love dogs as much as or more than most people do, but these dogs are snitches.
Retire ALL OF THEM.
Anytime these K-9 units are used without a proper search warrant, which is often, all they are doing is manufacturing “probable cause” for their law enforcement handlers to bypass the U.S. Constitution and search and seize our shit, usually based off of nothing more than a questionable “alert” from an excited dog.
So perhaps that is Buffett’s angle – money.
It would make sense, right?
Unlike his wacky claims about cannabis in Colorado, historical precedent has shown that when weed gets legalized crime goes down and DUI’s go down – two main revenue streams for any local law enforcement department. Not to mention how silly his little book might look if it’s shown to be dripping with bullshit. So how’s a little old sheriff from Macon County supposed to bankroll a private foundation and its seven-figure donations if cannabis goes mainstream in Illinois?
Maybe he ought to grab the leash and follow the doggos to a happy retirement.