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Inside the Beltway: The nose knows no more marijuana

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Narcotics dogs have one less job to do in the state of Washington. Now that marijuana has become legal within the borders, many law-enforcement agencies, including the Seattle Police Department and Washington State Patrol, will no longer train their drug-sniffing canines to alert handlers to marijuana.

The Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, in fact, advised police that their pooches were not required to smell out the once-illegal stuff; the task has been eliminated already from the doggy performance standards test. But it's complicated.

Officers will no longer be able to rely solely on a sniffer dog's alert when determining probable cause for a search warrant, according to the association. Police must now inform judges that a narcotics dog might be alerting for a "legal" amount of marijuana, Washington State Patrol spokesman Bob Caulkins, told KATU-TV, an ABC affiliate.

"Moving forward, it makes most sense not to train dogs to alert to marijuana as that would likely lead to unwarranted investigatory detentions of people who are not breaking any law," said Alison Holcomb, drug policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union.

The state of Washington, meanwhile, has hired a $300-per-hour "pot czar" to help communities and officials ease into a cannabis-friendly marketplace. Ironically, an out-of-state group won the job: Massachusetts-based Botec Analysis Corp. was chosen over 112 other groups.

BRACKETING A FEW VOTES

Yes, President Obama is following the NCAA tournament, for better or worse.

"The president has his priorities. His White House closes tours while he continues to play golf and host lavish parties. He'll be two months late with his budget, but he got his NCAA basketball brackets in right on time," observes Bryan Preston, a Pajamas Media opinion writer.

"The leader of the semifree world picks Indiana to win it all. Sadly, Obama's bracketology will end up helping him connect with some voters," Mr. Preston adds.

Mr. Obama chose Florida, Indiana, Louisville and Ohio State to reach the Final Four.

"I'm going with Louisville. I know it's not a surprise pick," the president told ESPN. "And I'm going with Indiana. These are the two best teams right now, and for the championship I'm going back to the Big Ten. I think this is Indiana's year."

SANFORD, PART TWO

Now that the onetime "disgraced governor of South Carolina" has won his chance to run for the U.S. Congress, the press is already framing Mark Sanford with some specific flair. Among the emerging headlines:

"The next comeback kid" (Slate), "Rising from disgrace" (ABC News), "Is redemption complete?" (Christian Science Monitor), "Jenny should run Sanford's campaign -- into the ground" (Columbia Free Times, referring to the candidate's former wife).

STILL THE BANE OF BOEHNER

"So much for the charm offensive," mused House Speaker John A. Boehner after hearing President Obama's remark on arriving in Israel that "it's good to get away from Congress."

The speaker shared this with CNN's Jake Tapper:

"I'd rather be heckled than ignored. Or, as I like to say, you only tease the ones you love," Mr. Boehner added.

BREW HA-HA

For those who can't stay awake as the politicians drone on and on, it's "Death Wish Coffee," which contains 780 mg of caffeine -- about three times as much as the typical brew. It's organic, though, and priced at a rather strong $20 a pound.

"You will not find this coffee at your local diner or at your sissy Starbucks," the New York-based company says, calling it "the world's strongest coffee," and offering the warning, "Try at your own risk."

See it all here: deathwishcoffee.com

STILL BREWING

There's not much optimism among tea partyers in the wake of the Republican National Committee's grand plan to rebrand the party, unveiled by Chairman Reince Priebus on Monday. There is, however, continued anger and resolve.

"Tea Party Patriots will never allow the Republican National Committee or any political party veto power over our activities. Never," proclaims Kevin Mooneyhan, a national program organizer for the ever-vigilant umbrella group.

"I don't care what these D.C. hacks want. This is our movement and we will never dilute our message, compromise our principles or back down from a political fight," he continues.

"According to the GOP report, 'The RNC is the only entity that can effectively lead on issues and messaging' and the Republican establishment plans to call for a 'command performance meeting' with all conservative groups to decide what we are allowed to do and say," Mr. Monneyhan says. "Baloney."

He adds, "These people either don't know or don't care about how much danger our country is in. They only care about gimmicks and political games."

POLL DU JOUR

• 74 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed; 94 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of Democrats agree.

• 64 percent of Americans overall say it would be a "bad thing" if the federal government shut down for a few days because Congress did not pass a new spending bill; 52 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats agree.

• 34 percent of Americans overall say a government shutdown would be a "good thing"; 46 percent of Republicans and 22 percent of Democrats agree.

• 40 percent overall would blame Republicans in Congress for the shutdown; 15 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Democrats agree.

• 38 percent would blame President Obama; 68 percent of Republicans and 13 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,021 U.S. adults conducted March 15 to 17.

• Arias, solos and stage whispers to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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