How Portable NIR Technology is Revolutionizing Forensic Cannabis Analysis

08. May 2024

In the swiftly evolving field of forensic science, the demand for portable and efficient solutions has grown exponentially, particularly in the realm of drug analysis. Recent advancements, such as the integration of handheld devices like NIRLAB’s NIRLight with cloud-based systems, are marking a transformative era in real-time forensic applications.

Portable NIR Spectroscopy and Its Impact on Forensic Analysis

The introduction of portable near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy technology is a breakthrough for forensic field operators, particularly in the analysis of controlled substances like cannabis. This technology distinguishes between CBD-type and THC-type cannabis, aligning closely with traditional ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) methods.

The core of this innovation lies in its ability to process data through a server while interacting with users via a mobile application. This setup not only enhances operational efficiency but also significantly alleviates the workload in laboratories by expediting routine illicit drug analyses. For lab technicians, this means more time to focus on complex cases, thereby improving overall productivity and reducing turnaround times.

Real-World Application and Benefits

The practical application of this technology has been vividly demonstrated in the field, where it has been employed to test various cannabis specimens. The results have shown remarkable congruence with reference methods, providing law enforcement with a reliable tool for immediate substance identification. This capability is pivotal in making quick decisions on the ground, particularly in distinguishing legal from illegal cannabis variants based on THC and CBD concentrations.

Advantages of NIRLAB’s Technology

  1. Efficiency: Quick results reduce dependency on centralized labs for initial drug testing.
  2. Portability: Easy to use in the field, increasing the reach and effectiveness of forensic teams.
  3. Accuracy: High congruence with traditional lab results ensures reliability in legal and forensic settings.

The deployment of such technologies not only supports the forensic community but also paves the way for broader applications, potentially impacting regulatory practices and public health monitoring.


As forensic science continues to evolve, technologies like portable NIR spectroscopy are setting new standards for efficiency and mobility. The integration of handheld NIR devices with cloud systems represents a significant leap forward, promising to reshape the landscape of forensic drug analysis by bringing laboratory precision to the field in real time.

Access the Full Academic Paper

For those interested in a deeper dive into the methodologies, results, and implications of this research, the full academic paper is available below or read the full study here1.

To explore more about spectroscopy and discover the full capabilities of NIRLAB’s technology, we invite you to read our other informative articles, here. Additionally, for personalized inquiries, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at

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  1. Coppey, F., Schelling, C., Veuthey, J.-L., & Esseiva, P. (2023). Cloud‐Enabled Handheld NIR Spectroscopy: A Transformative Approach for Real‐Time Forensic Analysis of Cannabis Specimens. Helvetica Chimica Acta, 106(e202300052). ↩︎

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