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If Illinois legalizes marijuana for recreational use, law enforcement officials fear job losses for hundreds of officers — specifically, the four-legged ones.

Agencies spend thousands of dollars and months of training to teach their  dogs how to sniff out and alert officers to the presence of marijuana, heroin, cocaine and other drugs. If pot use becomes legal, the dogs would likely either have to be retrained — which some handlers say is impossible or impractical — or retired.

“The biggest thing for law enforcement is, you’re going to have to replace all of your dogs,” said Macon County Sheriff Howard Buffett, whose private foundation paid $2.2 million in 2016 to support K-9 units in 33 counties across Illinois. “So to me, it’s a giant step forward for drug dealers, and it’s a giant step backwards for law enforcements and the residents of the community.

 

Chad Larner, training director of the K-9 Training Academy,…

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