With the slow but steady legalization of cannabis products across the United States and the world, the cannabis industry is gradually growing with it. This brings along a whole new set of rules, regulations, and guidelines that need to be followed in order for cannabis businesses to remain compliant.
One such guideline that businesses in the cannabis market have to adhere to is providing purchasers of their cannabis products with a certificate of analysis (COA) for that product. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, there is an emerging trend of cannabis products being mislabelled as to their cannabinoid potency, or that are failing to disclose the presence of certain cannabinoids (such as THC) in their products.
At Abundant Labs, we believe in the “Science of Quality,” which is why we are committed to bringing you premier, consistent cannabis products along with the information and resources you need to navigate this highly regulated industry.
What Is A Certificate Of Analysis?
A Certificate Of Analysis is obtained from an accredited laboratory and is a verified report of the chemical analysis of the cannabis product (namely the potency of the cannabinoids, such as CBD and THC) along with particulars of the testing lab, the brand, and the product at hand. Furthermore, the COA will tell consumers if the product contains any damaging toxins like heavy metals, pesticides, molds, or bacteria. Many cannabis consumers do not like the idea of purchasing a product whose chemical analysis was tested by the manufacturer themselves, due to unfair bias. There is a multitude of impartial, third-party organizations that offer accredited CBD testing services that cannabis businesses can utilize.
How To Read A COA
Understanding the data within each section of the COA is crucial, most accredited lab reports follow the same general format, so once you have an understanding you’ll be good to go. The heading is also important as it contains information that verifies the legitimacy of the certificate.
- Cannabinoid Types
The hemp plant contains a wide range of cannabinoid chemicals.
A full-spectrum certificate of analysis should compile all detectable cannabinoids, including but not limited to CBD, THC, CBN, CBDV, and CBG if it’s full-spectrum CBD oil that you’re selling. THC, the cannabinoid you don’t want if your product isn’t identified and legally sold as cannabis — at least not in quantities that exceed 0.3% weight — will also fall into this section.
You might see the initials ND, or non-detectable, next to some of the compounds as you skim down the list. This means that there was so little of the compound detected for it to be negligible.
- Weight Percentage
Weight percentage is the percentage by weight of each cannabis compound, located to the right of the cannabinoid types. Additionally, the weight of the product should not include the weight of the packaging.
The following column will be a report on the concentration of each cannabinoid compound which will be measured in milligrams per gram (mg/g). This section allows you to verify that the cannabinoid levels of the product match what you paid for (especially with CBD oils). If you purchased a product that weighs 50 grams and contains 500 milligrams of CBD then it should say 10mg/g in this section.
- Safety Profile
Like all commercial products, cannabis products should be screened for possible harmful chemicals, such as pesticides, heavy metals, solvents, microbes, mycotoxins, foreign matter, etc.
The heavy metal analysis section of the COA should list the total amount of metals detected in the product, along with the maximum amount of each metal that is considered “safe” for human consumption. The detected amount should be well below that of the maximum safe amount.
The microbial contamination section of the safety profile will tell us that no fungi or bacteria are present in the product. These results will be in cfu/g (colony forming unit per gram) on the COA. Negative reports will sit at <10 cfu/g.
Not all companies test for terpenes in their products. Terpenes give the cannabis plant its unique scent while safeguarding the plant. Should they be tested it will be measured in ppm (parts per million).
Fatty acids and Vitamin E may also be tested and listed on the COA as these are naturally present in the cannabis plant.
[[Further Reading: How To Read A Certificate Of Analysis]]
There are many regulations and rules within the cannabis industry, however it is important for consumers to remain educated and vigilant about the CBD products that they are consuming. Abundant Labs is concerned about what is being sold into the market, and we hope this article has been helpful in informing you of the ways that you can protect yourself while enjoying cannabis products.