What is a Certificate of Analysis (COA)?
A certificate of analysis is a document attesting that specific goods have undergone specific testing with specified results. So why is this important? A certificate of analysis is important because the COA tells you what you are putting in or on your body. In the cannabis industry, this will speak specifically to cannabinoids and THC. Also, look at the 3rd party lab that prepared the certificate of analysis (COA). This is important because there are standards testing labs need to meet to guarantee the quality of results. You want to make sure the 3rd party lab is ISO 17025:2017 certified. ISO 17025:2017 is important because it certifies the lab meets general requirements for competence, impartiality, and consistent operations of their laboratory. If a 3rd party lab meets these requirements you can trust their results. Also, you want to make sure the 3rd party lab follows cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practices ) and GLP (Good Laboratory Practices).
Who was the COA prepared for and batch ID?
If the label does not match the brand on the COA then the COA you are looking at is not the correct COA. Also, the batch ID should match both the label/packaging unit and the COA. If the batch ID is on the COA is different from the batch ID on the product then you are looking at a COA that does not match what you might be ingesting or putting on your body. This is important because the only way you can know what is in a product as far as cannabinoids and THC is from a certificate of analysis.
Cannabinoids and THC
When looking at the COA you want to make sure you know if the brand puts in the product what they claim. If they claim 2000mg of CBD in a product does the COA show you there is 2000mg of CBD in the product? The industry standard is ±10% which means the 2000mg product has a range of 1800-2200mg’s of CBD to hit the standard. Just because the standard is ±10% it’s always better to be as close to the stated mg amount. If the product is full-spectrum and broad-spectrum then there should be other cannabinoids besides CBD and THC. The list of cannabinoids on a certificate of analysis should include Delta 9-Tetrahydrocannabinoilic acid (THCA-A), Delta 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta 9THC), Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), Cannabidiol (CBD), Delta 8-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta 8THC), Cannabinolic Acid (CBNA), Cannabinol (CBN), Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), Cannabigerol (CBG), Tetrahydrocannabivarinic Acid (THCVA), Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), Cannabidivarinic Acid (CBDVA), Cannabidivarin (CBDV), Cannabichromenic Acid (CBDA), Cannabichromene (CBC). All of these cannabinoids should be listed on a COA but not all of these cannabinoids will be present in a product.
Another area to focus on is the THC percentage. Currently, all CBD products must be under the .3% THC to be legal. If the product you are holding in your hand is above the .3% THC level then your product is not a legal CBD product.
Accreditation on COA
You want to make sure the 3rd party lab has proper accreditation. For example, ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement (ILAC MRA). The ILAC MRA accreditation provides a significant technical underpinning to the calibration, testing, medical testing, and inspection results. Basically, the ILAC MRA gives you confidence that the 3rd party lab’s equipment gives precise and accurate results. Another accreditation to look for is A2LA. A2LA is among the largest accreditation bodies in the world and the only independent, 501(c)3, non-profit internationally recognized accreditation body in the United States that offers a full range of comprehensive conformity assessment accreditation services. The A2LA accreditation is where a 3rd party lab gets their ISO 17025:2017 certification from mentioned earlier. Why is this important? Because there are standards that the 3rd party lab must follow and verifies that you can trust what the COA reveals.