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Company Develops Device to Distinguish Hemp from Cannabis




Distinguishing hemp from cannabis has become a critical issue, but one company has a relatively affordable solution. A device recently developed by Orange Photonics can distinguish between hemp and cannabis, and is being used by county leaders across California and beyond.

The technology is called a “light lab” device. This particular device is small enough to fit in a suitcase and can be carried around from location to location. The Food and Agricultural Code as well as the Health and Safety Code define industrial hemp as containing less than 0.3 percent THC content, so any plant material that tests higher is illegal for hemp cultivators and must be destroyed. Anything with a higher THC content is considered cannabis.

“Typically our customers are hemp growers or cannabis growers [. . .] Most recently we have been working with law enforcement, and they have been using the device to ensure the compliance on the hemp side and to ensure that folks on the cannabis side are doing what they are allowed to do,” Chief Technology Officer at Orange Photonics Dylan Wilks told KEYT.

Santa Barbara County in California, for instance, uses a portion of its cannabis tax to operate the device. Other areas are looking into devices like Orange Photonics device to save time and effort. “Typically hemp is considered hemp if it is less than 0.3 percent THC, and if it goes above that 0.3 percent threshold then it is considered marijuana or drug cannabis,” said Wilks.

When hemp and cannabis aren’t clearly defined, the results can be devastating, as cultivators in several states have learned over the past year. Last November, a joint effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Kern County, California officials led to the destruction of 100 million hemp plants because they tested too high for THC levels.