header image for the complete guide to CBD COA (Certificate of Analysis)

Hemp and CBD industries have exploded since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the growing and selling of hemp and hemp-derived products. While this is a good thing, there are bad actors who are selling mislabeled CBD products. A CBD Certificate of Analysis (COA) is a way for both CBD consumers and CBD companies to double-check the quality of their CBD for quality assurance purposes.

You should steer clear of companies who don’t provide a COA for their CBD products because you can’t be certain of the ingredients inside, which is dangerous for both consumers and companies. (For example, if your CBD contains a higher THC amount than 0.3%, it’s illegal.)

So a COA adds an extra level of transparency across the entire industry.

What is a Certificate of Analysis (COA)?

A Certificate of Analysis (COA) is a document from a laboratory that shows you the chemical make-up (e.g., contents) of a product. Usually this means displaying the quantity of various cannabinoids in your CBD. COAs are typically performed by third-party labs for quality assurance and transparency purposes.

CBD manufacturers should send every batch of every product they make to a lab for testing. Not only does this help protect and build trust with your customers, but it can also help for advertising purposes by helping you promote how much CBD your products contain.

CBD consumers should always double check the COA before buying any CBD product to make sure it’s safe and legal. Many CBD companies will also add a QR code to their packaging so you can also find it that way.

At GenCanna, we provide COAs for every single batch for every single product we offer. And we have a searchable database full of all of our previous COAs. You just need to enter your batch number and our database will spit out the COA report for that batch.

How do you read a Certificate of Analysis (COA)?

COAs come in many different shapes and sizes, which makes them more difficult to analyze. The reason for this is that there are different laboratories and different types of tests.

Some tests will only show the standard cannabinoid profile and terpene analysis — which will list the contents of all the cannabinoids in the product (including CBD and THC among many others). Whereas other tests are full-panel lab tests — which in addition to displaying the standard cannabinoid profile and terpene analysis will also include any molds, pests, or heavy metals that could become harmful over certain amounts.

Also, each individual laboratory will have their own formatting for the COAs, which could cause confusion if you don’t know what to look out for.

So, what exactly should you check in a COA report? Let’s get into it…

What you should look for in a COA

While you should get into the habit of reviewing the entire COA, there are a few things in particular that you definitely want to check:

  1. Third-party testing  

    The biggest red flag with COAs is if the same company who manufactured the CBD is performing the lab analysis. Make sure that the report was completed by a third-party laboratory and not the CBD manufacturer. At GenCanna, we also test our products in house to cross reference and double confirm the accuracy of both COAs.

  2. THC content 

    The federal legal limit for THC in CBD products is 0.3%. So you’ll need to confirm that the CBD product(s) you’re purchasing contain less than 0.3% THC.

  3. CBD content 

    Next, you want to check the CBD content to confirm it matches what the manufacturer was advertising on their product.

Those are the three main things you should check each COA for. But the more you know the better! It’s a good idea to get into the practice of reading it all over to discover what other types of cannabinoids are in it, what terpenes are included, and which pesticides and heavy metals were used during production.

At GenCanna, we provide full COAs for each batch of every product we create. If you’re interested in selling your own CBD, we offer both a private and white label program.

Click here to talk with our sales team about which option would be best for you.

(Not sure what the difference is between a private or white label program? Click here to read our article about the differences.)