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A 2011 press release from the Alaska State Troopers proudly unveiled the results of a three-year(!) study which, not shockingly, determined that the odor of marijuana may be associated with the presence of marijuana.

Now, stop it. Maybe Alaska State Troopers (AST) don’t have much to do; it’s a pretty sure bet that their lives could use a little more excitement. And they have all those “federally forfeited illegal drug proceeds” to spend on… well, something.

The troopers used the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Justice Center to analyze three years’ worth of marijuana grows which they busted. The study analyzed 200 marijuana grow searches conducted by Alaska State Troopers covering 2006 to 2008.

Marijuana was found and seized in 197 cases, or, as the troopers ever-so-helpfully point out, “98.8 percent of the cases reviewed.”

Out of the 200 cases reviewed, investigators reported detecting the odor of marijuana in 121 cases, or 60.5 percent.

“Detection of marijuana odors was found to be significantly associated with the discovery of relatively large amounts of marijuana — that is, quantities of four ounces or more, as well as 25 or more plants,” some would-be scholar in charge of writing the press release meticulously tells us.

The report actually breaks it down, deciding that the odds of AST discovering four ounces or more of pot were “2.7 times greater than the odds when a search was not preceded by the detection of odor.”

“Additionally, the odds of AST discovering 25 or more marijuana plants following the detection of odor were 2.9 times greater than the odds where a search was not preceded by the detection of odor,” the report avers.

Well… alrighty then! (When do you suppose the last time was, when these guys got any?)

All laughter aside, the reason the troopers have gone to all this trouble isn’t for our twisted entertainment. It’s to shore up their legal position in future court cases where officers claim to have smelled marijuana, as pointed out by Ben Anderson at Alaska Dispatch. (The courts have rightly proven skeptical of some smell claims in the past.)

The study, entitled “The Predictive Validity of Marijuana Odor Detection,” analyzed a total of 115(!) variables.

For their next multi-year study, I hope the Alaska State Troopers examine the deepest of enigmas we all urgently need to know: Can the smell of beer, wine or liquor possibly indicate the presence of alcohol?

I, for one, will not sleep until I get some answers.


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