Since the Farm Bill categorized cannabis with less than 0.3% of THC as hemp, and a non-psychedelic substance, pet owners can now buy CBD products for themselves and their pets. Yup! It is pretty exciting to have this natural holistic option available to us.
What’s not so exciting is the following scenario: You’re off on holiday with your companion animal. Traveling is stressful for your pup, so you’ve got some CBD bites in your hand luggage to help keep him calm.
You’ve also got your CBD tincture that helps you to sleep. Then you spot it – the sniffer dog doing his rounds in the airport. CBD is derived from the hemp plant, related to marijuana. Then it hits you harder than a stoner’s high that this drug dog may detect your CBD and confuse it for marijuana.
Take a deep breath, don’t look so suspicious. We answer your questions about how much sniffer dogs can smell, and whether you’ll be in trouble if they do sniff your CBD stash.
CBD and Hemp Oil: What are They?
CBD stands for “cannabidiol” and is a naturally occurring compound in the Cannabis Sativa L. species of plant. CBD is one of over 800 phytocannabinoids from both hemp and marijuana, plant varieties of cannabis.
Readily available cannabis oil is known as CBD or hemp oil. These oils are extracted from the hemp plant and are completely safe, thanks to the less than 0.3% THC content. THC is the compound responsible for the psychoactive effects associated with “getting high.”
Is CBD Oil Safe?
Oil from the hemp plant is safe for the canine and human body and will not get either of you high. This includes CBD hemp oil and PCR hemp oil. These oils have many health benefits and can be used to support the body’s immune system, regulate moods, calm the body in stressful situations, help with discomfort, support joint health, and much more.
For humans, CBD is available as a tincture, in capsules or edibles, or as vape cartridges for smoking. Pets can ingest CBD oil as bites, chews, or in carrier oils such as coconut oil or MCT oil. CBD oil tinctures are popular and easy to administer at mealtime. For fussy pets, CBD peanut butter may hit the spot.
Can Drug Dogs Smell CBD Oil or Hemp Oil?
Dogs have an incredible sense of smell. They’re 10,000 times more accurate with their noses than us humans. Pair that ability with their desire to hunt, their ability to please, and their trainability, and you get the perfect detection dog.
This is why canines are the preferred animal for providing services that require super-canine olfactory receptors. THEY SMELL EVERYTHING! Trainers are preparing dogs as bio detectors to smell Covid-19. If they can smell that, they can definitely smell your CBD oil or hemp oil if they are trained to sniff it out!
Whether the sniffer dog alerts their guardian to your cannabis oil is another concern.
Are Drug Dogs Trained to Smell CBD or Hemp Oil?
As service animals, super-sensitive drug dogs have become an arsenal for law enforcement. Drug dogs can detect a plethora of illicit substances.
Not so long ago, the FDA coupled marijuana with hardcore drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, and other narcotics. This doesn’t mean that every sniffer dog will alert their handlers when they smell any of these substances.
Sniffer dogs signal for the substances they have been trained to detect. If a dog is trained to detect narcotics, it won’t alert a passerby of present cancer cells. And visa versa.
These days, hemp products are legal, so trainers will not waste their resources on training their service animals for allowed products. It makes no sense to do so.
Do Marijuana and Hemp Have The Same Scent?
There is a distinct aroma to weed. Terpenes are what give cannabis plants their unique scent and are the primary constituents of essential oils. It has been found that hemp can yield terpene profiles similar to those of marijuana plants, sometimes giving them a similar aroma.
There are over 100 identified terpenes in the cannabis plant. Terpenes can enhance the effect of cannabinoids like CBD and can influence the experienced health benefits. A full-spectrum CBD oil will be rich in terpenes and have that “cannabis smell.”
Will Drug Dogs Alert on CBD Oil?
If drug dogs are trained to detect cannabis based on its terpene scents, they can smell hemp and marijuana without differentiating between the two. A handler is also unlikely to know the difference as testing for THC content is complicated and expensive. Another curveball is that medicinal marijuana is legal in individual states.
Considering the above, you can see how training a dog to detect cannabis has become invaluable.
You can’t exactly explain to a hound that it’s okay for someone to have CBD oil when the very scent of it triggers them to give the signal and expect a pat on the back for a job well done.
How Accurate are Drug Dogs?
Drug dogs are as accurate as they’re trained to be. However, mistakes are made, and there is much controversy about whether our canine friends are trustworthy enough to outright convict a person of carrying an illegal substance.
A 2014 study that looked at the efficacy of drug detection by fully-trained police dogs found that:
Hidden drug samples were indicated by dogs after an average of a minute, with 87.7% correct detection and 5.3% being false.
In 7% of the drug trials, the dogs failed to find the drug sample within ten minutes.
German shepherds were superior to other breeds in giving correct indications, while Terriers showed relatively poor detection performance.
Dogs were 83.2% efficient at searching in well-known versus unknown rooms with strange odors.
The canines in the study were only 63.5% accurate when searching around vehicles, versus 57.9% correct when searching inside cars.
The study, therefore, shows us that effectiveness of a search has many variables, including breed type, training level, drug type, and search sites. Another study interestingly found that handler belief, gestures, and bias also affect detection dog outcomes.
People are still wrongfully accused, and unnecessary arrests are being made. Fortunately, drug detection dogs are starting to retreat from searches for cannabis due to changing laws. With the growth of medicinal marijuana and CBD products’ popularity for people and their pets, law enforcement is focusing its efforts on more significant problems.
Can You Travel with CBD Oil or Hemp Oil?
The U.S. Transportation Security Association states that “Marijuana and certain cannabis-infused products, including some Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law except for products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by FDA.”
By definition of the Farm Bill of 2018, hemp cannot contain more than 0.3 percent of THC. So considering the TSA regulations, as long as the product in your luggage is derived from hemp, and you have a certificate of analysis to prove it, then you should make it to your destination. You’re not doing anything wrong.
It’s useful in verifying the quality and purity of the CBD product you’ve purchased. Ethical CBD retailers will happily provide you with a COA, which allows you to confirm that the THC percentage is less than 0.3%.
If a company is hesitant to provide the documentation, move on and find a reputable brand. Here’s an example of a Certificate of Analysis from Honest Paws.
Not only will a low percentage of THC be guaranteed, but a COA will ensure that the product (for yourself or your pet) contains no contaminants that can be toxic for your pet.
CBD oils should be organic and naturally farmed, without any harmful chemicals.
What About International Travel?
The likelihood of encountering a drug dog on a domestic flight is slim. However, international borders may be more vigilant about illicit substances. Make sure you question the airline and find out what the destination laws are on CBD before packing your bag. It may also be safer to buy CBD at your destination.
Avoid embarrassing encounters with law enforcement officers by doing your research and leaving those marijuana edibles at home.
Drug Detection Dogs – Our Final Thoughts
Sniffer dogs have an essential job to do. They assist in the effort to combat international drug trafficking and to smell for explosives in public spaces. We should celebrate their ability and the work of their handlers.
In places where hemp-derived products are legal, there is no reason why a drug dog will target your CBD. Cannabis products from hemp contain an irrelevant amount of THC, and they are legal on a federal level in the U.S.
However, with such newfound freedom and use, CBD can be confused for marijuana due to its related scent. Have the Certificate of Analysis on hand if you’re traveling, or save it to your phone for easy access.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do drug-sniffing dogs smell CBD oil?
What can drug-sniffing dogs smell?
Sniffer dogs signal for the substances they have been trained to detect. This can range from cancer cells, COVID-19 germs, explosives, illicit drugs, and more.
Can dogs get high off CBD oil?
An oil that has been extracted from any part of the hemp plant is safe for the canine and human body and will not get either of you high. THC, the cannabinoid responsible for its psychological effects, is in minimal doses (0.3%) in hemp and will not have any effect.