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Testing CBD

How to Read a Certificate of Analysis

By on January 15th, 2020 in Company Info

How to Read a Certificate of Analysis (CoA)

What is a Certificate of Analysis?

A Certificate of Analysis (CoA) is a laboratory report on the chemical make-up of a product. A CoA for CBD shows the contents and potency of the cannabinoids, as well as the presence of other tested compounds, such as terpenes, heavy metals, etc., while also ensuring the hemp extract contained within, meets the federal legal guidelines of containing less than 0.3% THC per product or batch.

These reports are important for consumer safety and peace of mind, as they provide critical information needed to make an informed purchasing decision.

Why are CoAs important?

In an unregulated industry, consumers need to be careful about what company they are buying from.  Knowing the exact potency and ingredients is critically important to safely make an informed purchasing decision.

As widespread adoption of CBD is new to the marketplace, there is little oversight in the CBD industry as a whole. This lends way for unethical companies to make unsubstantiated claims, with little fear of recourse. Sadly, it is not uncommon for their products CBD potency, falsely claim a product is full spectrum when it is actually a broad spectrum or isolate, as well as inaccurately report whether their product does or does not contain THC. In fact, The Associated Press put out a report that found 128 of the 350 CBD products tested by American law enforcement agencies contained synthetic marijuana as did 10 of the 30 tested by the AP directly (1).

Despite this inconvenient lack of oversight, there is a surefire way to ensure one is purchasing a quality product. One must refuse to purchase any product from any company that does not perform third party laboratory testing or fails to make these test results (CoAs) easily accessible to their consumers.

How Do I Read a CoA?

The first item you should notice on a CoA is the company who performed the lab test. It is imperative to verify that the company performing the test is not the same company you are purchasing the product from, in order to avoid any bias or conflict of interest in the report.

On the top left of this example CoA, information regarding the product’s identification is found, which includes the batch number of the product tested. On the top right is the company that manufactured or is selling the product. In the middle, you will find a QR code. This QR code is utilized as a quick and convenient way to view a product’s CoA by scanning the code with your smart phone to verify the authenticity of the report.  Further, the lab manager’s signature is provided to verify the report is authentic and correct.


Heavy Metal Analysis

The Heavy Metal Analysis, checks for heavy metals present within said product. “Conc” is the concentration of the metal found within the tested sample. “Ingestion” is the amount of heavy metals that is deemed safe to ingest per day, as reported by the Department of Health.

Pesticide Analysis

The Pesticide Analysis, lists a number of common pesticides contained or absent in the tested sample.  Consumers need to make sure the “Results” states “ND” (not detected) and the “Status” states “PASS”.  This demonstrates that no pesticides were detected within the sample.

Terpenes Profile

The Terpenes Profile Analysis, shows what terpenes were detected within the sample and its relative weight percent. Terpenes are aromatic oils that give cannabis its unique smell and flavor. Some terpenes promote relaxation while others promote focus.

Analysis of Volatile Organic Compounds

The Analysis of Volatile Organic Compounds, shows what gas may have come in contact with the final product of said sample. “ND” stands for “not detected”. The consumer needs to ensure each of the compounds’ “Status” is “PASS”.

Cannabidiod Profile & Potency

The Cannabidiod Profile & Potency, is one of the most important parts of the CoA, as it shows consumers exactly which cannabinoids are present and the potency of the CBD and THC contained within.

The “ID” lists the cannabinoids the lab tested for.  Under “Weight %” if it shows “ND” it stands for Not Detected. This is equally important if the consumer is buying an isolate product as “isolate” implies an isolated ingredient, which in the CBD space translates to a product being THC-FREE.

The right side of the below screenshot shows a bar graph corresponding to the relative amounts of the different cannabinoids in the product. If more than one form of CBD is present, then the product is considered either a “broad spectrum” or “full spectrum” product. The difference between the two, being that a full spectrum product will also contain trace amounts of THC, whereas a broad spectrum will be THC-FREE.


1. CBD Tainted with Substance that causes death, Comas, Insanity | by Dan Robitzki | Published in | September 16, 2019

How to Read a Certificate of Analysis

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