CBD products have become socially acceptable rather quickly. This is wonderful news for CBD companies, but it also complicates the industry. Much like you can walk the streets of New York and get a knockoff watch from a peddler, you can also fall prey to fake or low-quality CBD products. The ramifications of buying this sort of knockoff far exceed those of a “Bolex” watch. That is why education is essential in the CBD movement.
In an unregulated industry, with new CBD companies popping up everywhere, it is difficult for customers to know exactly what they are paying for law-abiding Labeling alone is not reliable, especially when products are sold online to customers who do not fully understand the ins and outs of the industry. This is the reason COA’s are standard practice for reliable CBD manufacturers. They create transparency for consumers as well as regulators to clearly identify exactly what is and is not inside a given hemp extract.
In an industry that is quickly expanding with limited regulation, it is extremely important that as a consumer, you know exactly what you are purchasing. Certificates of analysis provide transparency and assurance to consumers so they can be confident in what they are buying.
Labeling alone is not reliable, especially when products are sold online to customers who do not fully understand the ins and outs of the industry. This is the reason COA’s are standard practice for reliable, law-abiding CBD manufacturers. They create transparency for consumers as well as regulators to clearly identify exactly what is and is not inside a given hemp extract.
This section of the COA details precisely which cannabinoids are present in this batch. Here, you can see that CBD is the most present cannabinoid, and there is less than .005% THC, which occurs naturally in hemp – that’s far less than the maximum 0.3% THC that can legally be present per the 2018 Farm Bill.
The heavy metal analysis chart indicates which metals were tested for with the chemical symbol and name. ‘Conc.’ is the concentration of the metal measured in the sample. ‘Units’ refers to the measurement size, in this case micrograms per kilogram (1,000,000,000 micrograms in 1 kilogram).
Another report in the COA is the pesticide analysis, which lists a number of common pesticides tested for in the sample. The unit in this case is ‘ppb’ or parts per billion. LLD is the “lower limit of detection” based on each specific pesticide, and the ‘Limits’ column is the maximum amount allowed for consumption based on safety regulations established in the State of California (these values may vary slightly depending on the specific state or federal guidelines identified in the report). The ‘Status’ column indicates PASS if the sample is under the legal limit or NO PASS if the levels are above the limit. In this report, no pesticides were detected.
The terpene profile analysis shows which terpenes were detected in the sample and the relative amount of each by weight percent. Terpenes are what give hemp products their unique flavors and aromas. The variation in kind and abundance can give consumers information on how it may smell or taste. More information on terpenes and their role in hemp can be found in our blog ‘What are Terpenes?’
The first thing you want to check on a COA is that the company who performed the lab test is not the same company who is selling the product. This is called a ‘third party’ test and it is to ensure transparency in the results. If it was only tested by the company selling the product, there could be bias in the report. *This description is specific to the example COA provided by this third-party lab. COAs may vary from lab to lab, but all of the elements described should be present, regardless of format.
On the top left, there is information to identify the sample and batch which it came from. On the top right, the address and contact information of the company selling the product is listed. The QR code in the top center can be scanned by anyone to verify the authenticity of the report. It links to the lab that performed the analysis so consumers can cross check to make sure the COA was not fabricated.
There are a few ways to find COAs. Most companies will include them on their website, or provide them to customers upon request. Make sure they are up to date and match the batch number listed on your product. Indiana, Texas, Utah, and Florida have passed state laws that require QR codes on all CBD products. Although other states have not yet passed similar laws, most CBD companies are transitioning to include QR codes on their packaging to increase transparency and make it easy for customers to find this information. Customers can use their phones to scan the code on the package and link directly to the COA specific to the product that the code is printed on.