What is a COA? Understanding Your Cannabinoid Products?
When navigating the CBD and Hemp based market, consumers must exercise severe caution in order to avoid poor quality or potentially dangerous products. One of the most important aspects of choosing your CBD or Cannabinoid Products lies in the COA, the Certificate of Analysis. A Certificate of Analysis is a document provided by an accredited independent laboratory that yields results from in depth testing. Generally, the labs use a process called “Liquid or Gas Chromatography” to test Cannabinoid Extracts. These tests exhibit the levels/amounts of each individual Cannabinoid contained in the extract. This is referred to as a Cannabinoid Profile. Manufacturers can also voluntarily test these extracts for Pesticides/Heavy Metals, Organic Volatile Compounds, and Terpene profiles.
Reviewing the Cannabinoid Profile & Potency
There are several things to review in the Cannabinoid Profile. Arguably, the most important of these being the THC content. The state of Florida still prohibits possession of THC products UNLESS you possess a State Issued Medical Marijuana Use Card. Therefore, customers must ensure that the level of THC remains below 0.3% (law considers products containing above 0.3% THC as Marijuana products).
Once a consumer has ensured that the product contains less than 0.3% THC, they must review the levels of other Cannabinoids. If a product is advertised as broad spectrum, it should contain moderate to high levels of CBD and at least small amounts of several other Cannabinoids. Products advertised as a CBD Isolate product, should reflect only CBD in the profile.
Evaluating a Terpene Profile
Secreted in the same glands that produce cannabinoids like THC and CBD, terpenes are aromatic oils that color cannabis varieties with distinctive flavors. Unique effects accompany each individual terpene. Some promote relaxation and stress-relief, while others promote focus and acuity. For example, researchers believe Linalool to be relaxing whereas limonene elevates mood.
Terpenes may offer additional medical value as they mediate our body’s interaction with therapeutic cannabinoids. Many cannabis analysis labs now test terpene content, so you may have a better idea of what effects a strain might produce. With their unlimited combinations of synergistic effects, terpenes will certainly open up new scientific and medical terrains for cannabis research.
Interpreting the Pesticide Analysis
Another incredibly important factor to review in a Certificate of Analysis is the Pesticide Analysis. This test provides an analysis of all pesticides commonly found in Hemp by-product. It is extremely important that your Cannabinoid Extract contains no amount of residual pesticides. Pesticides can cause severe health issues especially in vaporizing products, and to consumers with compromised immune systems. Organic grown hemp is the safest type of crop. If a company claims to have an organic product, be sure to check the COA for a pesticide analysis!
Reviewing Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile Organic Compounds encompass organic substances that may pose a threat to the safety and purity of the products. A large portion of these compounds become introduced at the extraction and processing steps. These compounds include substances like Butane and Propane which are optional solvents. If a company claims to use Solventless Extraction, there should be no detectable Propane Hexane Acetone or Butane in the product. Many companies use a distillation process to be sure the product is free of any unnecessary by-product. This often results in minute levels of ethanol (alcohol is necessary for distillation). This amount should read far less than the “Limit” (Limits are the level that implies a change from safe to harmful).
Certificates of Analyses often use abbreviations and codes to save space and reference other pieces of information. Here we decode some of the most common terms and acronyms.
As one could assume, these tests may indicate values in several ways. Most commonly, a COA lists Cannabinoid profiles in mg/g (milligrams per grams), mg/mL (milligrams per milliliter), or mg (milligrams in given product).
For example, a product may list 578.96 mg/g of CBD. Other compounds are measured in ppm (parts per million). This measurement is used for minute levels of compounds.
Some compounds will not be detected at all. This may be indicated in several ways such as ND, a blank space, or dash marks in that space.
Important Information Included on COA’s
Finally, consumers should verify the authenticity of this document. COA’s can be photocopied, edited, stolen or purchased. A Certificate of Analysis will include a QR Code that can be scanned using a cell phone. This QR Code should lead directly to the laboratory website that hosted the analysis. If any part of this document contradicts the official website, you should avoid the fraudulent product.
Authentic Certificates will also list the contact information of the official laboratory hosting the analysis. This should include a phone contact, website, email, and authorization of a lab associate.
Finally, double check that the Certificate lists the name of the brand that you are buying. If the COA is assigned to a different brand, be wary of fraudulent activity.
Check out our Official Healthy Hempies Certificate of Analysis Library!
And keep an eye out for updated COAs released in the future.