Residents in small towns hate the smell of marijuana, so they’re calling upon the Nasal Rangers to save them.
States with legal marijuana states struggle with illegal weed. This may seem paradoxical—how can something be illicit if it’s legal and regulated by the state?—but many longtime cannabis consumers want to avoid high taxes and fees associated with legal marijuana. That’s why they still buy weed from black market: it’s cheaper and there’s little to no consequence if a cop finds them in possession of marijuana. Last year, the Associated Press reported that 80% of all California marijuana deals still occur “under the table.”
Marijuana grows can smell something fierce. In the town of Bessemer, Michigan, residents complain the whole town smells like weed. While Michigan legalized marijuana and residents can grow their own cannabis, there are limitations on how many plants they can grow at a time. To combat the perceived problem, the city council opted to spend $3,400 on a “Nasal Ranger.”
The device was developed by St. Croix Sensory, which describes the device as “the ‘state-of-the-art’ in field olfactometry for confidently measuring and quantifying odor strength in the ambient air.” Think of it as binoculars for your nose. And yes, it looks as ridiculous as it sounds.
Denver police have been using the device to catch illegal growers since 2013. Ben Siller, an investigator with the Denver Department of Environmental Health who used the Nasal Ranger, told the Denver Post at the time that it’s a violation when an odor exceeds the 7-1 ratio, i.e. “one volume of odor is detectable with seven or more volumes of nonodorous air.” The problem, Siller said, is that hasn’t happened since 1994.
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It does illustrate a growing tension in marijuana legalization and residents privately growing their own weed. Last year, Newsweek reported that Michigan state police were receiving phone calls about marijuana smoke and odors, but the cops lacked jurisdiction to persecute any of the participants. (That is, unless they were underage smokers.) According to New York Times, some California towns have sought to ban private cannabis growing, despite its legality at the state level, due to resident complaints of a “dead skunk” stench from marijuana plants.