Everything You Need To Know About COAs and Why They Matter
Not all CBD products are created equal— as we’ve previously mentioned. To debrief: CBD products differ in potency, their contents (i.e. the hemp plant they’re derived from) differ in origin, and many times the content of the product doesn’t match the content of the label.
Why the inconsistencies? Well, it’s due to the lack of state and federal regulation of hemp and cannabis products. The industry is still in its infancy, which ultimately allows many brands to release products into the market with no credibility or transparency about the contents of their product.
What’s the average CBD consumer to do? How can you guarantee the quality and safety of the hemp products you’re prospectively buying? One word: COA. (Okay, technically three words— it stands for Certificate of Analysis.)
What is a Certificate of Analysis (COA)?
On the bright side of what seems to be a rather chaotic void of integrity in the industry, many reputable CBD brands are partnering up with certified, third-party laboratories who are able to publish their product’s lab results with a COA.
A COA is an authenticated document that:
- Establishes details about the testing lab itself
- Provides details regarding the brand and product in question
- Outlines the potency levels of each ingredient in the product, including:
- CBD (cannabidiol, i.e. non-psychoactive element out of cannabis’s active ingredients)
- THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, i.e. the main psychoactive element in cannabis)
- CBG (cannabigerol, i.e. type of cannabinoid, “mother of all cannabinoids” found in cannabis)
- CBN (cannabinol, i.e. a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis)
- Terpenes (i.e. the aromatic components associated with hemp and cannabis plants)
- Determines the product’s levels of toxins and contaminants, i.e. bacteria, heavy metals, pesticides, and molds.
Outside of the reality that the CBD and cannabis industry is largely unregulated, the USDA and other state guidelines maintain that all products sold to consumers must be tested. So, if the company of the CBD product you’re looking to buy doesn’t link you to an easily accessible, legitimate COA, then it’s best you don’t buy from them.
Where Can I Find a COA?
Many companies are cooperating with their CBD consumer base by making access to their COA easy and headache-free. Some are printing QR codes that link to the COA on their product’s packaging, while others publish their COA on their website in the product description portion.
Make sure to do your due diligence and directly contact the CBD companies to request their COA if it isn’t readily available as illustrated above.
What To Look for In a COA
The header of a COA contains important details that help determine the legitimacy of the document’s data.
First, you’ll want to look for the Report Date to ensure that the printed results are recent and relevant. After that, you’ll want to make sure that the third-party laboratory’s name is listed prominently so that you’re able to do your own research to verify its credentials.
Then, you should find the name of the product’s brand so that you can cross-reference it with the name of the brand on the packaging. These names should be the same—unless the business has contracted another manufacturer to make the product. If it happens to be the latter case, you may want to dig even deeper to confirm that the COA is connected to the correct product.
Finally, you’ll want to confirm that the batch number and description printed on the COA match the product you’re looking to purchase.
The summary section of the COA essentially provides all the key results a consumer needs at a glance.
This section will provide the results of the potencies of each respective cannabinoid, in addition to (if provided) whether the product passed the safety tests for different contaminants. A full panel COA will have both types of results present in its summary, as opposed to providing just the potency testing (typical of several companies in the industry).
Below the testing summary, you’ll find the potency results of the most well-known and therapeutic cannabinoids, i.e. CBD, CBN, CBG, and THC. Additionally, if you are purchasing a product derived from hemp, you’ll want to ensure that it doesn’t surpass the legal limit of 0.3% of THC.
If you want more in-depth information regarding what specific cannabinoids and terpenes are in your product, and their respective concentrations, you’ll want to read the potency section.
The result column informs you how many milligrams of each cannabinoid is concentrated per gram of the product. The results may also be measured in mg/ml if the product that was tested is an oil or liquid. If a tested cannabinoid has a blank result, it means that the lab didn’t find significant levels of the compound to report.
Next, you’ll find a % column that converts each cannabinoid’s concentration from milligrams per gram to a percentage of the product’s overall weight. This conversion is the same result derived from the previous column, but laid out in a way that’s easier for most consumers to comprehend.
All in all, it’s important for cannabis companies to test their products through reputable third parties in order to make sure that they’re high quality and safe for customer consumption. Additionally, a company’s publication of their COA exemplifies their willingness to be open, transparent, and honest— all of which are important traits to consumers when buying any product, especially from an industry that lacks a standard blueprint of regulation.
Did this information appear to be overwhelming for the novice consumer?
Thankfully, MyJane does all this work for you in the selection of products they offer on their marketplace and in their box.
You can skip the hard work and simply trust that the rigorous process of curation, testing and experiencing the products go through before being selected is to ensure consumers get the best of the best.
If you buy from MyJane, all the research has been done and the COA is available at the bottom of each product page. That’s just one of the benefits of MyJane shopping on myjane.com .