Narcs, Barks, & Carts: Can Drug Dogs Smell Vape Carts?


The portability, potency, and overall discreetness of THC vape carts are enough to make your average stoner feel invincible. I mean, come on, we’ve all been there with our first cart.

I can take this thing anywhere, man!”

It may feel like that, but can you really take your cart anywhere though?

Well, with great power comes great responsibility, and a common question we see come up is whether or not carts are discreet enough to slip by the ultra-powerful nose of your neighborhood K9 units.

So, in this article, we’ll be answering the ultimate question when it comes to the discreetness of these neat little devices – Can drug dogs smell vape carts?

We’ll explain what drug dogs are used to smell, how they’re trained, and just how accurate they are at detecting cannabis vape cartridges in comparison to traditional cannabis, and even hemp derived carts.

How Strong is a Dog’s Nose?

First things first, let’s talk about what dogs can smell.

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell. In fact, it’s estimated that their sense of smell is around 1,000 times more powerful than a human’s.

They have around 300 million olfactory receptors in their nose, compared to our measly 6 million. So, it’s safe to say that they can smell things that we can’t even begin to imagine.

K9 Units: The Super Sniffers

Now, let’s talk about what drug dogs are trained to smell.

Using those mega-nostrils, drug dogs are trained to detect a variety of drugs. These include marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines, among others. In certain scenarios, they are also trained to detect other things like explosives, currency, and even human remains.

But, how do they know what to smell for? Well, that’s where their training comes in.

How Drug Dogs Are Trained

Drug dogs are trained using a technique commonly referred to as association training.

This is where they are exposed to a specific odor and then rewarded with a treat or a toy when they correctly identify it. This process is repeated over and over again until the dog is able to accurately identify the odor on command. They are also trained to alert their handlers when they detect the smell, usually by sitting or barking.

However, it’s worth mentioning that drug dogs are not always 100% accurate in field application, and their handlers must use their own discretion and judgment when interpreting the dog’s alerts.

False positives can, and do occur, so it’s important to have further testing to confirm the presence of illegal substances. We’ll be covering this more in depth later on.


Person Using a Vape Cartridge


How do Drug Dogs Smell Cannabis?

Now, let’s talk about how drug dogs are trained to smell cannabis.

While the process is mostly the same as with any other drug, the training for detecting cannabis is somewhat controversial.

Why is it controversial?

Well, it’s primarily due to the fact that drug dogs which are trained to detect cannabis, well, aren’t actually trained to detect cannabis. Due to the vast difference in odor and strength that can vary among cannabis these days, it isn’t actually used in the training process for drug dogs.

Instead, these little pups are trained using a couple different compounds called terpenes. One of them is called beta-caryophyllene, which is one of the many sesquiterpenes found in cannabis, among many other plants.

Another is caryophyllene oxide, which is a byproduct of the drying process used commonly during the manufacturing of cannabis flowers.

The combination of these terpenes being used during drug dog training, although controversial, has been effective.

Unfortunately, these terpenes also are found in other products, such as your everyday black pepper. As mentioned earlier, this method can lead to false-positives, as well as non-detections for specific cannabis items, such as edibles.

Can Drug Dogs Smell Carts?

So, how does this play into the accuracy that drug dogs have when it comes to smelling cannabis vape cartridges?

Due to the lack of actual cannabis being used in the training of the pot-pups, it’s said that they can be thrown off by the added scents and flavors in vape cartridges, or the lack there-of.

In short, if you’re using a cart that explicitly has distillate without any additional terpenes – it’s very possible for vape carts to go undetected by drug dogs.

However, training methods very well may differ from location to location, so we don’t recommend trying any stunts to see how far you can push the envelope.


Police Car Lights


Can Drug Dogs Smell Delta-8 Carts?

For simplicity purposes, the concept is nearly identical.

Play it smart, don’t put terps in the cart.

Because smelling funny means 2 to 20.

– CHD Staff

Alright, so there’s a little bit of psuedoscience involved with the detection method, which brings us back to the topic of false positives/negatives.

Due to detection methods, there’s no real discretion being practiced during a K9 sweep. That’s right. Delta-8, Delta-9, THC-P, you name it; it all is essentially the same to the pups.

In fact, it’s likely that even legal CBD vapes can cause a false positive if it has the terpenes they are trained to alert for.

So, what does this mean for alt-cannabinoid enthusiasts who enjoy vaping?

Although rare, the prospect of being wrongfully accused of something is daunting, especially as a hemp enthusiast trying to stay on the right side of the law.

Since the alt-cannabinoid industry is in its infancy, situations that involve a search that results in a false positive like this will typically result in a confiscation, fine, or even arrest.

On top of that you can expect some form of product testing to confirm legality, especially considering the ever changing legal landscape of the industry.

So, just play it smart. Don’t put yourself in risky situations, and don’t use terps in your vape carts!

The Verdict – Can Drug Dogs Smell Vape Carts?

In conclusion, drug dogs are highly trained, but their accuracy in detecting THC vape cartridges is not guaranteed.

Unfortunately, this grey-area of their accuracy has one fault:

It can lead to false positives on legal vape products.

In short, if you follow our rule of thumb and use carts without terps in them, you’re much less likely to run into issues if you find yourself in a situation involving a drug dog.

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