‘Nasal Ranger’ patrols for pot smells in Denver

DENVER — One man uses a secret weapon to make sure the smell of marijuana doesn’t overpower local neighborhoods.

Cultivating marijuana has the potential to make growers a lot of money. But growing it, even with special filtration systems, can emit a skunky smell that spreads for blocks.

Certified odor observer Ben Siller’s job is to check out odor complaints the city of Denver receives.

“When medical marijuana first started that was some of the calls we were getting is these facilities were coming in to places and they never had that odor before,” Siller said.

The city calls Siller to investigate when it gets several pot odor complaints at the same time.

“Call me ‘Nasal Ranger’ or the ‘Smeller Dude,'” he said.

He has a device that looks a little bit like a radar gun that can measure the exact ratio of clean, non-odorous air to the amount coming in from smells.

While the city grapples with how and when you can light up pot, Siller expects to keep the peace for families like Karyn Wingard-Manuel’s.

“If someone is doing it out on the front porch and my kids are around, it would definitely bother me and after a while I would maybe call it in,” she said.

Even with the nasal ranger’s sensitive device, recording a violation around homes is a rare occurrence.

“If need be, we’ll go out and contact the party, let them know that a complaint has been filed even though there isn’t a violation and we’ll let them know that perhaps there’s some way they can work it out,” Siller said.

Now that anyone who buys recreational marijuana can just fire it up, the complaints for the nasal ranger to investigate may increase dramatically.