CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The city of Painesville will disband its K9 Unit following Ohio’s decision to legalize hemp and medical marijuana.
“The decision was not made lightly, but in the face of the city’s continually growing budget deficit and the passage of Ohio SB57, the city could no longer sustain the auxiliary unit," a prepared statement read.
The decision to eliminate the Painesville K9 Unit was also impacted by the need to replace and equip a new K9 cruiser.
Estimated costs to move forward with the cruiser and equipment in 2020 were $68,000.
With SB57, the city would also have to purchase and train a new K9, estimated at an additional $11,000.
Ohio Senate Bill 57, also known as the “hemp bill” was signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine on July 30, 2019 making it legal to cultivate a strain of cannabis known as “hemp.”
Ohio SB57, which removes hemp and hemp products from the definition of marijuana in Ohio law and prohibits it from being listed as a controlled substance.
In Ohio, K9′s had previously been trained to detect drugs, including marijuana, those dogs are unable to detect the difference between legal and illegal strains.
Moving forward, many prosecutors, including those in Lake County will not accept evidence found by marijuana trained dogs.
“We would never cut anything that would directly affect the safety of our citizens,” said City Manager Monica Irelan Dupee. “The K9 Unit has been outstanding and is very well respected in the community. However, we had to make a decision that was financially responsible and best for the city overall.”
Cip, the Painesville K9, will be retired from the department and live at home with Ofc. Matt Collins.