Potency Test Results

Certificates of Analysis (COA)

COAs show potency and presence of different compounds within a product or extract.

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What is a COA?

It can be produced by the company making the product if they have testing equipment or it may be done through a third party (recommended to ensure accuracy).

COAs for hemp and cannabis will show levels for common cannabinoids and terpenes. It also shows if there are harmful contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, molds and bacteria. 

Which compounds are measured and shown on the COA is up to the lab. In general there are standard ones everyone includes but more novel or new compounds must be requested to be included and may not even be available if the lab doesn’t have the testing standard for that compound set up. 

Each lab can setup the template for how their COA displays the test results including which compounds are highlighted on the main front page. Usually safety and compliance summaries are highlighted on the first page as well as primary target compounds like CBD, Delta 8 and others.

COA’s are usually several pages long and details for less common compounds are typically on secondary pages. 

USDA and State guidelines require all products be tested to ensure potency accuracy and safety. If there is no COA available do not consume or buy the product.

How to read a COA?

The report date is listed and shows when the test was performed.

Next note the lab who performed the test. You should research to see if the lab is ISO certified (it may be displayed on the COA). ISO certified labs provide the most accurate results and reputable companies will test with these labs. When a company chooses not to test with an ISO certified lab it is often because they want inflated potency results on their COA to increase the value of their product (as non-certified labs often do this). 

Next look at who had the COA performed. It should be from the product manufacturer, brand of the product or seller of that brand.

You’ll want to see that the tests shows PASS for all potentially harmful compounds that could be present and were tested for. It’s important to note that not all compounds that could be present and harmful are tested for by the labs. Learn more below by reading “WHY A PASSING COA DOESN’T GUARANTEE SAFETY”.

See where the COA lists the levels of Delta 9 THC and ensure it is below the legal limit of .3%. 

Review the levels of cannabinoids and terpenes present to see how rich and diverse the product is in these compounds. 

Sometimes the displayed levels for the compounds present are misinterpreted because it is not understood that the displayed levels are based on either the milligrams per gram or by the recommended serving dose which the company provides the detail for when submitting to the lab. If no information is given on the serving size then it is common for the lab to default to mg per gram. You may also see results measured in mg per ml if the tested product is a liquid or oil.

If you see no information or ND (non-detect) in the results column this means the laboratory did not detect significant levels of the compound.

The % column converts the concentration of each cannabinoid from mg per gram to a percentage of overall weight of the product. This conversion is simply another way to look at the same results, but is often easier for consumers to understand. 

Always look for ISO accredited lab results

Why is it important for labs to be accredited?

The accreditation of labs improves facilitation of accurate and rapid diagnostics, efficiency of treatment and reduction of errors in the laboratory process. Accreditation is not about who the best is, but who has a system of standard procedures with aim to improve the quality and patient safety.Typically a lab who has taken the time to get their accreditations is committed to being a quality lab, and has shown this be investing both time and money into accomplish that goal. They also stand to lose more by not putting forth accurate results and will be less likely to do so knowingly.

Why you should not accept COA’s from unaccredited labs:

There are certainly labs out there that are reputable and don’t have their accreditation but unfortunately there are too many labs willing to put falsely high potency results on their reports to gain business. We have witnessed numerous occasions where someone has sent us labs for Delta 10 and other compounds that was grossly off (confirmed by re-testing with various accredited labs to ensure accuracy).