How to Read a Certificate of Analysis?
Commercial cultivators of cannabis make tall claims about the purity of their produce. But as a seasoned stoner, are you willing to take the suppliers at their word? Is there any way of establishing that your cannabis supplier is supplying you with the best quality of Indica or Sativa strains?
Apart from banking on your instincts, you can always ask for your supplier to provide you with a copy of the COA or Certificate of Analysis. A COA offers you complete details about the contents or ingredients of the cannabis product or products (together with their chemical composition) your supplier promotes. So, COA basically is the lab report containing particulars about a product’s chemical structure.
Manufacturers and suppliers have to furnish a Certificate of Analysis for all their products processed from hemp extracts. So, before creating the COA, the producer has to ensure that his products go through strict quality control checks in at least two laboratories owned by third parties. The laboratories assess the hemp extracts for cannabinoids, pesticides, heavy metals, and purity.
What exactly is a COA?
Manufacturers of hemp products usually provide a copy of the COA to the consumers of their products. The COA reveals the cannabinoids’ content along with details about heavy metals, pesticides, and so on. The certificate of analysis corroborates the claims made by the producer about the products’ ingredients and their quality.
COA is essentially needed for products derived and/or processed from industrial or commercial hemp. The certificate serves as an authentic testimony for substantiating and establishing hemp extracts contain THC below 0.3% as per legal stipulation. Additionally, the official document testifies that tests have been conducted to ensure that the extracts contain pesticides and heavy metals at safe levels.
The significance of a COA
The industrial hemp products industry still, by and large, remains hugely unregulated. Therefore, it is extremely crucial for end-consumers to be absolutely sure that they are spending money on top-quality products. In case you are a regular user of products obtained from industrial hemp, it is enormously imperative for you to be aware of the ingredients and the potency.
For instance, the hemp product that you use should either contain the banned cannabinoids or should be at least less than the percentage mentioned above. This prerequisite or condition matters, especially if and when you are appearing for a job interview. If the drug test reveals that your system contains THC over and above the permissible limit, then you may be disqualified.
Simply relying on the manufacturer’s claims (that their product is THC-free) could be risky. According to a survey carried out in 2017, nearly 70% of CBD products promoted online contained less or more CBD than claimed. Hence, to stay on the side, always insist on a COA from the manufacturer whose CBD products you use routinely.
Appreciating the basics of a COA
Before you start reading the details of the COA, ensure that the report was developed by a firm that is distinct from your supplier. In other words, laboratory tests should not have been performed by the manufacturer of the hemp products. Rather the tests and the lab report should be conducted and prepared respectively by an agency or company other than the manufacturer. This requirement is necessary to do away with the element of bias and uphold transparency in tests’ results.
Though the format of COA could differ from one company to the other, generally all documents should include the stipulated elements. For instance, the products that were dispatched to the lab should appear at top left of the page, together with the batch number. The manufacturer’s or supplier’s address along with the contact person’s details is mentioned at the top right corner.
The top middle of the opening page mentions the QR code that enables you to substantiate the report’s legitimacy by scanning it. Alternatively, the lab manager puts his or her signature at the end which doubly ensures that the COA is genuine.
Towards the first page’s bottom, you will find the sample’s cannabinoid profile i.e. the cannabinoids that were identified along with their concentration. The section or part of COA is obviously the most crucial as it outlines the names of the cannabinoids present in the sample as well as their individual potency.
The pesticide section of the report itemizes the various common pesticides in the sample examined and evaluated by the laboratory. The concentration of pesticides is indicated by PPB or ‘parts per billion’ which is the unit for quantifying the proportion. LLD stands for ‘lower limit of detection’ for every specific pesticide while the ‘L’ line indicates the ‘maximum limit’ or amount that is safe for consumption.
This section offers details about the different terpenes that were found in the sample as well as the weight of each in percentage. Terpenes are compounds that impart to a hemp product its exclusive aromas and flavors.
Heavy metals scrutiny
The analysis section relating to the heavy metals chart shows the specific metals that were detected, indicated by their respective chemical names and symbol. Every metal’s concentration in a sample is denoted by ‘Conc’ while ‘Units’ reveals the size, specified by mpg (1,000,000,000 microgram/kilogram). The lower limit is termed as MDL for lab instruments. The MDL column designates the lower detection limit as evaluated by the lab’s instruments.
Look for the ‘Use Limits’ column and thereafter go to the ‘ingestion’ section which indicates the amount or quantity that you can safely consume on a daily basis.