Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Drug dogs 'a waste of time'

Police with dogs at Waterloo stationPolice with dogs at Waterloo station (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Dog training specialist Blair Anderson says using sniffer dogs to detect drugs in workplaces and schools is a waste of time. Mr Anderson, who runs a dog training business in Christchurch, believes dogs should not be trusted to carry out checks which could lead to people losing their jobs or even acquiring a criminal record.
He also said he would have no concerns working around machinery with a cannabis user. It was a fact of life.
“Everyone does it. [Look] New Zealanders smoke more cannabis per head of population than even Jamaica,” Mr Anderson said.
If no one in your household smoked cannabis, the chances were the next door neighbour or the people across the street did. According to Mr Anderson one in five households had cannabis users.
Mr Anderson, a former deputy of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party of NZ, claimed there was research showing cannabis actually enhanced performance levels in jobs commonly associated with machinery.
“Is the drug consumption actually impairing the ability to do the job? What about tiredness and boredom and sports injuries surely they can impair someone’s ability on a daily basis.”
More concerning for Mr Anderson was the increasing reliance of sniffer dogs used in public spaces to detect drugs, mainly cannabis.
Cannabis had a distinctive smell. It was essentially an oil. To use dogs to detect it was misleading as results would differ depending on the environment and the dog’s overall health.
Dogs can become reticent if they became unwell or had a bad experience in previous searches.
Workers too were vulnerable when in public places or coming in contact with other people who were cannabis users. It was possible they could fail a sniffer dog test and not be a cannabis user.
“People can distinguish what is tomato soup, but dogs will identify the ingredients,” Mr Anderson said.
Wayne Pitcaithly from NZ Detector Dogs, recently carried out checks on Mid Canterbury workplaces and schools. He said while sniffer dog checks were not “totally infallible” the methods were successfully used worldwide.
“Our dogs are trained to meet international standards. They detect bombs and are used in the cruise ship industry. Using dogs has proved more effective than the latest electronic gadgetry- which does not always pick things up.”
Mr Pitcaithly said his dogs were frequently assessed. This included using the appropriate odour testing methods. Above all, NZ Detector Dogs was only concerned with health and safety in the workplace. Once drugs had been detected it was up to the respective companies to act on it.

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