Can Drug Sniffing Dogs Smell Edibles and Vape Pens?
Are Edibles, Vape Cartridges, and Vape Pens
Able To Be Detected By Drug Sniffing Dogs
A little bit of information can sometimes be more deadly than sheer ignorance. This especially so concerning information relayed by so-called “Experts” on the internet. Some of the info is true. Much of it is not though. One such piece of information is that dogs are not able to detect edibles or vape cartridges.
Is that true? If so, is that the loophole for you being able to safely bring in your edible gummies, vape pen, or dab pen to Alabama? (Insert any state or country where cannabis products are illegal) Read more to find out, the answer to this question.
Why You May Not Want To Take Any Chances
Please see the appendix below for the US and worldwide cannabis laws.
Short History Of Dogs In Law Enforcement Agencies
Police dogs are now considered commonplace in law enforcement. The use of police dogs though began in Ghent, Belgium in 1899 where Belgian Sheep Dogs and wolfhounds were trained to assist the police officers. In the US, Police dogs did not start to be used until 1907, in New York where five Belgian Sheepdogs were purchased from those dog trainers in Ghent Belgium.
The Law Enforcement Museum online website states that the first efforts to use canines in law enforcement, in the US were only moderately successful. In 1911, New York’s expanded to 16 dogs, and dogs have been valued team member for police officers, ever since.
Drug Sniffer Dogs
Dogs being used to detect drugs, and other substances are now commonplace in the United States, which makes sense as a dog’s ability to smell far exceeds any human. Drug sniffing dogs are now used commonly for detecting everything from drugs, explosives, and even SIM Cards.
The German Shepherd breed is considered to be the most accurate drug-sniffing dog as they have an 86% accuracy rate. English Cocker Spaniels, Labs, Terriers are also commonly trained to smell narcotics. (These breeds detection rate is only at 67%)-Source
How Accurate Are Drug Detection Dogs?
A dog’s sense of smell far outweighs any human nose. I.E Dogs have over 300 million olfactory scent receptors in their noses, while a human nose only has 6,000,000 receptors. This means that a dog’s sense of smell exceeds humans by at least 40X.
Depending upon what study you are looking at, the accuracy of a dog’s drug detection varies considerably. One study states that dogs can detect weed with an approximate 92% accuracy rate. Another study, though gathered from a defense law firm states that the accuracy rate is only around 50%.
Why the Difference Among Studies?
It costs thousands of dollars to train drug sniffer dogs to smell narcotics, explosives, etc. A veteran drug dog will likely do a good job and make few mistakes. However, they are dogs, and they do make mistakes from time-to-time. Also, a dog’s handlers make errors.
The body language of the person being searched can also explain the difference.
Drug dogs are trained to discover illicit substances through positive stimulus. They are trained to react when they smell narcotics, like weed, cocaine, or other illicit substances. And when the dog reacts to a certain smell the dog is given a positive reward.
The biggest problem though is police misinterpreting a dog’s reaction when they are out doing their job. The misinterpretation can be either by mistake or intentional. For example, a handler could potentially not be experienced and they might have legitimately misinterpreted a dog’s reason for a reaction. Also, police officers might deliberately misread a dog because of forfeiture laws.
So, the difference between the two studies largely has to do with how many misinterpretations of a dog’s reaction being counted as being accurate and also hidden biases among those who did the studies themselves.
Can Drug Dogs Smell Edibles?
Cannabis when cooked and made into edibles smells differently from the straight cannabis flower, and edible marijuana also has a different chemical composition than the straight flower. For example, most edible THC extracts (a substance used for edibles) do not contain terpenes.
This though does not necessarily mean that drug sniffer dogs are not able to detect cannabis edibles. Edibles do smell differently from straight cannabis. Dogs with their incredible sense of smell are able to detect almost any odor, which can include edibles.
Drug dog trainers train drug-sniffing dogs, by using the specific smell that is associated with a substance that they are being trained to discover. For example, a drug-sniffing dog is trained to recognize weed, and then to react once they smell cannabis. However, a dog needs to be trained to detect a specific scent.
Currently, federal agencies like the DEA focus on detecting large amounts of cannabis and other illicit drugs. Edibles have not, as of now, been used in smuggling large amounts of cannabis. Therefore, there is not a demand for drug dogs for detecting edibles. This policy may change without notice though if a large, edibles, or cannabis oil smuggling operation is discovered or the DEA is somehow embarrassed when a large number of edibles were found to have been smuggled. So, you will never know if the drug-sniffing dog that you encounter is able to able to smell edibles or not. Additionally, the drug dog’s reaction can be misinterpreted. This can result in a police officer finding your weed gummies when the dog never did actually detect it in the first place.
In summary, edibles are not typically smuggled into the United States or elsewhere on a large scale. As a result, dog trainers for federal agencies, typically, do not train dogs to sniff out cannabis edibles
However, dogs though, when they have been trained accordingly, can smell edibles.
Can Dogs Smell Vape Pens?
Just like edibles, whether or not dogs can smell vape pens, dab pens depends upon their training. A drug detection dog will be able to detect vape cartridges, dab pens, and vape pens if they were trained to discover those substances. Historically, training dogs to detect THC cartridges has not been a priority for police departments. Whether or not drug-sniffing dogs are trained to smell vape pens depends upon the drug policies of the community.
Unfortunately, as in most things in life, there are no clear-cut answers concerning drug dogs’ ability to smell edibles, vape pens, vape cartridges, dab pens, etc. Drug sniffer dogs detect edibles and cartridges only when they are trained to detect a certain scent. Historically, drug dogs have not been trained to recognize and react to the specific edible or vape cartridge smell. But, it does not mean that they will not be trained to do so, in the near future. The above also mostly pertains to the US federal government law enforcement agencies.
Luckily, I live in Nevada where recreational cannabis is legal. But, if I did not, I would make my decisions on whether or not I would try to sneak edibles or a vape pen into my state-based upon risk, reward, decision. Is the risk of me being caught with edibles or a vape pen or dab pen (no matter how small it may be) worth me being caught?
You can only make that decision.
US Summary of Drug Penalties
I felt this was section was appropriate to emphasize why you should reconsider attempting to travel with small amounts of weed either in the US or overseas.
What Happens If You Get Caught With Edibles?
The answer to the question seems obvious. But, some people tend to think that edibles are different from weed. However, this is wrong. Edibles do contain weed. Therefore, the penalties for edibles consumption are the same as possession of straight cannabis.
US Federal Cannabis Laws
As of 2020, weed is legal for recreational use in 11 states and legal in 36 states for medical use. The federal US Government still bans cannabis for any use. Click Here for a US Law Overview.
What this means is that the Federal Government can arrest you for cannabis posession even when it is legal in your state.
Beware Of Hiding Your Stash On Your Flight
No matter how safe you feel it may be; do not try to hide drugs while flying. This even if you are either returning to or visiting a state that has legalized weed.
Cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the US Government. (Schedule 1 drugs are considered to have no medicinal purpose and a high potential for abuse). If you are caught with weed while flying, the US federal penalties for marijuana possession are quite stiff. For example, possession of any amount or type of marijuana products can range from a maximum of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine for a first offense, and the penalties increase substantially if you are arrested again for possession. So, even if your state allows recreational or medicinal cannabis. The Feds do not.
World Wide Drug Penalties-Depending upon where you are the penalties for any amount of cannabis or illicit narcotics are severe. The following is an excellent reference on world drug laws and penalties.
Can you go to jail for edibles?
Yes, assuming cannabis is illegal where you live or visiting, possession of weed edibles is considered the same as if you were possessing flower. Therefore, the penalties are just the same.
Do dogs at the airport sniff for drugs?
It depends upon the dog and its training. A drug dog is trained based upon a specific scent. As an example, explosives smell different than cannabis. So, a dog drug-sniffing dog will not likely be able to detect explosive materials. A customs dog trained only to smell explosives will most likely not be able to discover drugs.
What drugs can drug dogs sniff out?
Dogs can be trained to smell pretty much anything from cadavers in search and rescue to explosives. So, when it comes to drugs, it depends on what the dogs were trained to detect. Some of the common drugs that drug dogs are trained to detect are heroin, cocaine, meth, suboxone, and cannabis.
What drugs can TSA dogs smell?
Most likely it will be cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and other illegal substances.
Can edibles be smelled by dogs?
It depends upon if the dog though it trained to detect cannabis edibles. Canines have a tremendous sense of smell and can pretty much detect anything. However, they would have to be trained specifically to smell out and find cannabis edibles. Dogs being able to detect edibles is currently not a priority for police departments.