Can Drug Dogs Smell Carts?
These days, the meme of shiftily carrying drugs through an airport while on the lookout for specially trained K9 units is mainly an anachronism. Domestically, TSA doesn’t seem to care much about passengers carrying personal quantities of drugs, making drug dog fears an issue primarily for international flights.
With stories like the Brittney Griner case bringing to attention once again that other countries often don’t share America’s stance on THC, we should refocus on the type of cannabis product Griner was caught with by Russian police: A vape cartridge. What are carts, can drug dogs smell them, and what does it all mean for traveling with weed?
What are carts?
“Cart” is slang for “vape cartridge,” a type of cannabis product consisting of concentrated oil contained in a replaceable atomizer tank. Carts are usually around 1.5 inches long, and they’re about the width of a pen, leading to the popularity of the term “vape pen.”
Do vape carts smell like weed?
Even though they contain concentrated cannabis extract instead of cannabis flower, vape carts do, undeniably, smell like weed. Cannabis concentrate is nowhere near as fragrant as cannabis flower, but it still has that characteristic “weedy” smell if you put your nose near the mouthpiece and take a whiff.
Can drug dogs smell vape carts?
Theoretically, yes, drug dogs would be capable of smelling vape cartridges containing THC extract. If a drug dog were trained to respond to the aroma of cannabis, they would most likely also respond to the presence of a vape cart since canine noses are so much more attenuated than the human equivalent.
Where are drug dogs used?
Thankfully, drug dogs are not used in the domestic sections of most American airports. In fact, credible reports indicate that “drug sniffer dogs” are not commonly used in the passenger-facing side of USA airports anymore — if they ever were at all.
It appears that rife drug-user paranoia has evolved into an overall misconception that sniffer drugs at airports are trained to detect drugs. While it’s true that drug dogs are sometimes used in the context of law enforcement, sniffer dogs at airports are apparently there just to smell for bombs.
So, even if it could smell the vape cart in your carry-on luggage, a drug dog at an airport probably wouldn’t be trained to respond. Also, when was the last time you even saw a sniffer dog in the context of domestic travel? They’re almost always used in international arrivals and departures, specifically customs.
Are drug dogs used outside airports?
Yes, K9 police units around the country are trained to detect all sorts of different contraband by aroma. Most dogs riding in local or state police vehicles, however, are not trained to detect the aroma of cannabis or other drugs.
Instead, specially trained drug dogs are brought in to assist in specific cases. Long story short, K9 units outside airports are even less likely to be drug-sniffers.
Are drug dogs at airports trained to detect weed anymore?
No, drug dogs are not currently trained to detect the aroma of cannabis, and for the most part, they never were. Drug dogs, also known in the US as Narcotic Detector K9 Units, make up only a very small portion of the total number of sniffer dogs active in the country.
Furthermore, Narcotic Detector K9s have, in recent years, no longer been trained to detect the smell of cannabis. With cannabis products moving through airports for semi-legitimate medical reasons on a daily basis, enforcement of every single cannabis offense becomes a paperwork nightmare.
There is a slim chance that, if you leave cannabis products in your luggage, a K9 drug sniffer dog that was trained under the old paradigm may notice it. TSA has specifically said, though, that it does not search for cannabis products anymore and only takes action when it comes across them in the course of other investigations.
American airport drug dogs vs drug dogs in other countries
The situation surrounding drugs, especially cannabis, in the United States is very different from the situation in other parts of the world. While America has largely embraced its flourishing cannabis economy (at least on a cultural level), many other countries still view cannabis products as dangerous narcotics, the trafficking of which can sometimes necessitate heavy prison sentences.
It is strongly recommended that you do not carry any sort of cannabis products, including vapes, on international flights. The US State Department is usually successful in rescuing Americans from foreign prisons, but the process can sometimes take months if not years.
How to keep drug dogs from smelling vape carts
If you want to keep drug dogs from smelling any vape cartridges you might be carrying, you’ll need to take measures to reduce the aroma the cartridge emits. One simple method is to keep the cart in its original packaging, which is usually designed to be airtight.
Concealing your vape cart from a trained drug dog might end up being an exercise in futility, though. While human noses can be tricked with simple ruses, a dog’s highly attenuated sense of smell is harder to fool.
4 ways to reduce the odor of vape carts
Concerned you’ll be carrying vape cartridges through an area patrolled by drug dogs? Here are four common-sense tips to follow that might help keep you out of trouble:
1. Keep the end capped
Almost all vape cartridges come with small, silicone caps that cover one or both ends of the cart. The cap on the mouthpiece is the most important, but you’ll want a silicone threading cap as well if you want to make your vape cart totally airtight.
This measure won’t keep the exterior of the vape cartridge from smelling like any resin that may have accumulated during use. It will, though, keep air from passing over the interior of the cartridge, dramatically reducing its odoriferousness.
2. Store it in an airtight container
Some vape cartridges come inside airtight cylindrical containers, usually made of translucent plastic. If you remember, hang on to any of these you come across since they’re very handy for travel.
Either in combination with capping the tips or on its own, putting a vape inside a sealed container is one of the best methods for reducing its smell. If you both cap your vape and seal it in an airtight container, the likelihood of your stash getting sniffed goes down dramatically.
3. Don’t hit it
Hitting a vape makes it smell stronger. That’s because the vaporization process naturally releases vapor into the air, and the remaining concentrate is heated, increasing its aromatic properties. So, even if it's a while before going through a drug dog zone, avoid hitting your vape as another way to limit its aromatic impact.
4. Pack it in other items
The more squished it is inside other odds and ends you’ve packed in your bag or suitcase, the less the aroma of your vape cartridge will be able to carry on the air. Packing a vape cartridge inside a sock is no substitute for capping it and sealing it inside a container, but this additional step can provide even more insurance against any unwanted aromas escaping your vape.
Analysis: Consider having your carts shipped there instead
These days, carrying cannabis on domestic flights in the United States is rarely a cause for concern. All the same, the odd chance that a dog might smell your stash — either at the airport or during a highway traffic stop — might be enough of an incentive not to travel with weed at all.
Thankfully, there’s an easy solution. Secret Nature ships THCA vape carts and disposables all across the country. Wherever you’re going, simply have a Secret Nature order shipped there in advance, and collect your package when you arrive or check in.
This approach takes the risk and even the annoyance out of traveling with cannabis. Plus, you can have any quantity of THCA products shipped to your end destination, and even extremely odoriferous products like THCA flower are available as well.
Remember that THCA converts into THC when heated, making these products nearly identical to the types of cannabis you can buy at adult-use dispensaries. Order a THCA cart online today to discover just how easy it has become to get high.
Drug dog vape cart FAQs
Brush up on more details regarding drug dogs and vape carts in the FAQ section below:
Can drug dogs smell dab pens in a car?
Some drug dogs may still be trained to detect the aroma of cannabis products, including dab pens. If a specially trained K9 unit is allowed entry into your vehicle, for instance, it is almost guaranteed to detect the presence of vape or dab pens.
The vast majority of traffic stops do not include K9 units, however, and police must have reasonable suspicion you are engaged in illegal activity to search your car. Plus, having dab pens in your car is only a problem in states that have not allowed adult-use cannabis — simply possessing a dab pen is not the same as admitting you used it while driving.
Can police dogs smell delta 8 carts?
Yes, police dogs trained to detect the aroma of cannabis can smell delta 8 vape cartridges just as well as they can smell cartridges that contain the delta 9 form of THC. Delta 8 is only slightly chemically different from delta 9, and in any case, it’s the terpenes in cannabis that make it smell like weed, not the cannabinoids. With that in mind, remember that traffic stops very rarely involve K9 units.
What are all the drugs that drug dogs can smell?
Drug dogs trained in narcotics detection are usually trained to smell the following categories of illicit drugs:
- Psilocybin mushrooms
Certain drugs are undetectable or nearly undetectable by aroma alone, and others smell too much like legal prescription drugs to be differentiated. In practical reality, most drug dogs are only able to detect cannabis, coca derivatives (cocaine, etc.), and unsynthesized poppy derivatives (e.g. heroin).