How to Read a Certificate of Analysis (COA) When Buying CBD

It’s always a good idea to be as informed as possible when buying consumer goods, especially those that are consumed and ingested. And that includes cannabidiol (CBD) products. When you are searching for a CBD product to buy, you’d be well-advised to review the Certificate of Analysis (COA) that should come with a product created by a reputable manufacturer.

But just the name of this report can sound like you’re reading a highly scientific paper that only doctors and scientists would be able to make sense of. The thing is, read and understanding a COA is important. But how exactly do you read it and understand its contents?

What is a COA?

A COA is a report created by a laboratory that details the chemical contents of a product. When it comes to CBD products, a COA will outline the cannabinoid and terpene profile of the CBD and will make mention of any contaminants that may have been identified in the product. COA’s are important for consumers because they help verify exactly what is in the product.

Manufacturers label their products to help consumers understand what is contained within them. But a COA will allow consumers to make sure that what is actually in the product matches what is being advertised on the label. These reports can typically be found on manufacturers’ websites. Otherwise, they can be obtained upon request.

So, how do you read COA’s so that you fully understand what is contained within the CBD product you are buying?

How to Read COAs

For starters, make sure the COA is up-to-date and matches the ID number or code of the product. You may also be able to scan the code on the product’s package that will link it to the COA associated with the product.

Once you get access to the report, verify the lab that conducted the testing and make sure it is not the same company selling the product. Ideally, testing of CBD products should be done by independent third-party labs that will provide unbiased details of the product. This information should be identified on the header of the report.

From there, you’ll want to take a look at the cannabinoid and terpene profiles. This section of the COA will tell you exactly what the product contains. There should be a list of all cannabinoids that were detected when the product was tested, as well as each cannabinoid’s concentration level, the latter of which will usually be listed as milligrams per gram of the product. You could then multiply that number by the total grams of the bottle to get an idea of how much of each cannabinoid is in the entire bottle.

An ‘ND’ stands for ‘non-detectable’, which doesn’t necessarily mean that that particular cannabinoid is not present, but that its levels are so low that the equipment used to test the product could not detect levels that low.

Not only do you want to see how much CBD is in the product – along with other cannabinoids – but you also want to verify whether or not THC is in the product. From a legal standpoint, there must be less than 0.3% THC in weight in the product in order for it to be legal. Any level over that can put the product in a legal grey area on a federal level.

Levels over this amount also means that there is the potential for the product to induce psychoactive effects when consumed. If you’re looking for a CBD product that does not have any mind-altering effects, you’ll want to make sure the COA reports less than 0.3% THC.

Be sure to compare the cannabinoid concentrations on the COA to those advertised on the product’s label.

Final Thoughts

A COA is a crucial document that should accompany every CBD product on the market. It’s this analysis that will tell you exactly what is in the product and what you are consuming. Purchasing directly from a retailer that prominently displays their COA’s will help you make a more informed purchasing decision.

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