Nearly anyone who has ever purchased a cannabinoid-infused product knows how important it is for said product to have been tested for purity and potency. These tests are ideally done by third-party independent labs and the results are usually available upon request, on the product’s packaging, or embedded into the product’s description on the company website. For most of us, the mere presence of such a test is enough to assuage our fears.
We browse it briefly, admittedly not quite sure what we’re looking at, and proceed to purchase the product with a sense of satisfaction that we “looked” at the test results. But wouldn’t it be nice to actually understand what all the information in these lab tests (also called CoA/Certificate of Analysis) means? In this article, we’ll be diving into what the purpose of these tests are, how to read these tests, why they’re important, and common places they’re located.
What Is A Certificate Of Analysis?
A Certificate of Analysis (or CoA for short) is a vital piece of information that might seem intimidating at first glance. Yet it’s actually useful in building trust and confidence from potential customers. It is simply key information for whatever substance was being tested, usually a cannabinoid-infused product. The CoA will display the cannabinoids found during the testing as well as the amount of each. For example, our Full Spectrum CBD gummies come with an astonishing amount of cannabinoids that include CBD, CBG, CBN, THC, and other minor cannabinoids. Viewing our Lab Report will show you how much of each cannabinoid is present at the time of the testing.
Why Did CoA’s Come Into Existence?
There is currently no way to regulate what gets pumped into the cannabis industry. Aside from the 0.3% THC stipulation, anyone can produce a hemp-infused product and market it as being potent and pure. Reviews are usually a great way to garner customer feedback, but only if they’re 100% honest and the reviewer isn’t compensated for positive feedback. So if you can’t trust the consumer reviews and you can’t trust the manufacturer, who can you trust? That’s why Certificates of Authenticity were introduced. Third-party (non-affiliated) independent (unbiased) laboratories are sent a sample of the product. The lab then runs a series of tests to confirm that the product contains what’s been advertised. The results are then sent to the manufacturer for them to make available as they see fit.
What If The Product Was Tested In the Same Facility It Was Created?
The cost in terms of time and money in regards to acquiring CoA’s are not cheap. Because of this, many brands resorted to testing their products in the same facility the product was created. This posed a problem for several reasons, many of which you can probably imagine. It would be like telling someone who just finished taking a test to grade his results without a proctor and the final score would not be questioned. While many individuals would do the honorable thing and record the actual grade, the temptation to fudge some of the answers to achieve a higher score would be quite high. This is why independent third-party labs are so important. Just because a manufacturer has the ability to test their products doesn’t mean they should.
The Importance of CoA’s
Certificates of Analysis initially may look like a nonsensical jumble of letters, numbers, and percentages. Many consumers take one look at the test results and decide it’s not worth the trouble to figure out what everything means. That’s mostly due to the lack of information available that teaches the individual how to read the lab results and how the information may be relevant to you.
If you’re concerned about drug tests for employment (either before or random tests during), you may wish to avoid THC completely. Drug tests typically test for metabolites in the body, regardless of where the THC came from, a topic we’ve covered in great detail in our article “___” CoAs can help alleviate your fears by confirming a THC-free product is accurate and does not contain any THC. For those of you that identify with this troubling issue, check out our lineup of THC-free products!
There are currently no regulations or monitoring done by the FDA to confirm the accuracy of CBD claims. Without CoAs available, you’d be taking quite a leap of faith with the company. While this is admirable, the weight of accuracy and purity shouldn’t fall on your shoulders. Rather, it is up to the company to alleviate any concerns you may have about whether or not it is a premium product. The results of a CoA should be identical to what is stated on the label.
While CBD is legal on a federal level, not all states agree with the 2018 Farm Bill. Many states have their own laws regarding the legality of hemp and hemp-derived cannabinoids. Hemp flowers especially can look identical to marijuana buds, which could pose serious problems if you’re detained with them in your possession. Having a CoA on hand can help confirm that the product in question is indeed legal for possession and use.
How To Read A Certificate Of Analysis
Learning how to read your CoA isn’t something you should be afraid of. Rather than focusing on what you don’t understand, try to interpret the information that looks familiar to you. Not all tests will look exactly the same, as each lab has their own format for displaying their findings. Let’s take a look at some of the basic things you’ll find on a typical lab test result.
Don’t Sweat The Numbers
There are a LOT of numbers on a traditional Certificate of Analysis, and that’s what can be the most intimidating. Before you look at the numbers, try to locate a few key pieces of information. First, you should be able to locate the lab’s name and address. Here at ERTH Wellness, we use SC Labs. Their address and phone number is located near the bottom of the report. Secondly, you should locate information about the product that was tested, such as the product’s name (i.e., Full Spectrum Gummies) and the batch number. Some lab reports will include a picture of the product as well as the serving size that was tested. Lastly, scan the report for the details about the testing that was conducted. This may be labeled as “cannabinoid analysis” and will include the dates tested, calculation bases, and more. Now that you’re more familiar with the non-numbers, you can probably guess what’s next…
Now for the intimidating part: the numbers. Unless you’re fascinated with numbers, this part may seem a bit mundane to you. Yet these numbers provide valuable insight to the total content of what you’re about to consume. First and foremost, you should locate the THC content (may be labeled as Delta-9 THC). All hemp-infused cannabinoids must have 0.3% THC or less as the total THC content. The lab result you’re looking at may have the total THC by weight or per gram. Next, you should find the section of total CBD content. Finding this information is a great way to fact-check the manufacturer’s claims of total CBD as well as CBD per piece. You may see various other cannabinoids listed such as CBG, CBN, or cannabinoids that end with the letter A (CBDA, THCA, CBGA, etc.). If you’re consuming a full-spectrum product and are interested in the “entourage effect,” knowing the total amount of minor cannabinoids may interest you.
There may also be a section of the lab test that says N/D (Not Detected/Not Detectable) or <LOQ (Less than Limit of Quantitation). This section simply means that the compound was too small to be measured/detected. You’ll often see this abbreviation in THC-free products that confirm the amount of THC is so small, it’s not able to be tested.
Finding The CoA For Your Product
Locating a Certificate of Analysis varies with each brand. Brands may choose to post the results publicly on their official website, make the results available via a QR code on the product’s packaging, only release the results upon request, or any combination of the three. Here at ERTH Wellness, we make it easy for our customers to find the Lab Results. Simply navigate to the product in question and scroll about halfway down the page. You’ll see a hyperlink on the words Lab Report that will open a new tab in your browser. Additionally, you can also scan a QR code that’s been stamped on the product’s packaging that will redirect you to the product’s Lab Report.
Hopefully this article has helped shed some light on how to help you effectively read Certificates of Analysis. While not all CoAs are formatted in the same way, you should be able navigate your way through the conglomeration of numbers and abbreviations with confidence. Here at ERTH Wellness, we’re passionate about purity and potency. If you have any questions regarding our products or how we publish our CoAs, feel free to reach out to us! Our knowledgeable team of CBD experts look forward to enlightening you on the wonderful world of hemp and all it has to offer.
All our products have been thoroughly tested for purity and potency, and we’re confident you’ll find something you’ll love. Our collection of edibles includes gummies, softgels, and tinctures while our inhalables sections feature disposable devices, vape cartridges, and pre-rolls! If you do end up trying our products (either a full-size or sample size), be sure to share your experiences with the rest of us in the comments below! In our next article, we’ll be talking about CBD and how it can be used in addiction recovery. Check back soon for this and other in-depth topics regarding hemp and hemp-derived cannabinoids. We look forward to seeing you again real soon!