When looking for a reputable CBD company, you know one of the key items to have is the Certificate of Analysis (CofA or COA). But once the company provides you or your patient with that document, it looks a lot like something from a sci-fi movie. If you don’t spend time in that environment, you won’t know what you’re looking at. Here are some of the most important items to find on the COA:
- First and foremost, the THC content. This may be listed as THC or 𝛥9-tetrahydrocannabinol. By law, hemp products must contain less than 0.3% THC. When looking at a COA, it may list THC as a percentage or by mg/g. If the THC is listed as weight/weight, you will move that decimal over to the left one unit to get the percentage (3mg/g = 0.3%).
- The CBD potency is equally as important as THC content. When checking the COA, there should be a section that tells how much CBD is in the product. To determine the accuracy of your product label, you’ll also need to know how much total volume is in the product being used. But wait, how can you switch from weight to volume, you ask? There should be a conversion factor listed on the COA to let you switch between grams to milliliters. You’ll calculate total CBD by (CBD mg/g) x (grams/milliliters conversion) x (total volume in milliliters) to get total CBD content. This number should match what the label states on your bottle. Now, you must remember that the standard allowance of +/-10% is ok with products, including your pharmaceuticals.
- A section you’ll want to also look for is the testing for other cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, and more to see if it’s broad spectrum (CBD + cannabinoids but no THC) or full spectrum (Cannabinoids including THC). If no other cannabinoids are listed, then you’re dealing with an isolate product. This is a good way to make sure you are getting what you paid for. Also near this section will be testing for terpenes, like β-caryophyllene and linalool. These volatile aromatic compounds are an important component not only to the plant, but to wellness outcomes. They give the plant its flavor and smell and may play a role in the entourage effect.
- The COA should list an additional section of contaminants like pesticides, herbicides, as well as any other additives. If not, ask the company for any additional details they can give you on this from a third party testing lab – NOT INTERNAL INFORMATION. If they can’t provide you with that information, consider finding another company to work with.
- The COA should specify the lot information that is being tested, and that lot number should match the lot number on your product label. Also listed near the lot should be the product name as well as the company you’re buying from. You want to get your product directly from the manufacturer, not three hands down the line.
- Timeline is important to look for because you’re dealing with oil and likely the longer the timeline, the less potent, or worse, the chance of a rancid or contaminated product. Look for batches that have been recently made and tested.
- Lastly, the name of the third party testing lab should be listed at the top of the COA with contact information listed at the top or bottom of the COA. You should be able to search that lab to find out their accreditations.
These items are crucial to protect the patient as well as the practitioner.