In 2018, the most recent iteration of the Farm Bill effectively legalized hemp and hemp-derived CBD on a federal level. Despite CBD’s newfangled legal status, the cannabinoid still isn’t approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a result, CBD products are largely unregulated.
Many unscrupulous CBD companies have tried to take advantage of this fact by either misrepresenting cannabinoid levels or cutting corners when it comes to their consumer’s health and safety. With so many CBD brands out there, it can be hard to tell which ones are legit. When it comes to determining what CBD brand will be both safe and effective, the most pertinent information lies in the Certificate of Analysis (COA).
What Is A Certificate Of Analysis?
A Certificate of Analysis is a report that confirms a particular CBD product has undergone lab testing. These can typically be found on a seller’s website. If you can’t immediately find any information about testing practices, COAs may be available upon request, though companies that spend the time and money to lab test their products usually tend to prominently display the results. At E1011 Labs, each package of Stems has a scannable QR code that will take you directly to that particular batch’s COA. If you can’t find a COA or any information regarding lab testing from a seller, it’s time to try a different brand.
However, once you do find it, you still have to read it—not all COAs are created equal, and the presence of one doesn’t necessarily mean a product is safe. The very thing that consumers should check for when reading a COA is where it came from. If the manufacturer conducted the testing themselves, there’s an obvious conflict of interest that can muddle the credibility of the results. Make sure an accredited third-party lab performed the actual testing. Consumers should be able to confirm the accreditation status with a quick google search of the lab’s name.
Next, it’s time to see which tests were actually performed.
Testing For Potency
Just because a bottle of CBD capsules you find at the gas station says there’s 50mg per capsule doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true. Over the past six years, the FDA has caught dozens of CBD companies lying about the amount of cannabinoids present in their products. A proper COA will test not only for CBD but also THC and minor cannabinoids such as CBN or CBG.
Checking the lab results is the only way to confidently confirm that the CBD percentage on the label is truly correct.
Testing For Microbrials, Mycotoxins, Heavy Metals, Pesticides, And Foreign Material
A good lab test should look for more than just potency. It should also make sure the product is safe for human consumption. It’s possible that the hemp plants used to make CBD can become contaminated with toxic compounds during the cultivation process. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure none of these possible contaminants have found their way into the final product. Here’s what to look out for:
- Microbials: Microbial pathogens such as mold can easily develop on improperly stored hemp. Consuming these pathogens has been known to produce serious adverse health effects in immunocompromised patients.
- Mycotoxins: It’s possible for fungi to take over hemp plants, producing carcinogenic mycotoxins that are extremely dangerous to humans
- Heavy Metals: It’s possible for hemp plants to absorb heavy metals like copper and mercury directly from the soil as they grow. These metals, when consumed by humans, can create long-term health problems
- Pesticides: Pesticides protect a hemp crop from insects and fungi, but too much can produce adverse health effects in humans
- Foreign Material: Debris such as hair, metal fragments, and machine oil can wind up in cannabis concentrates during the extraction process. It’s vital that labs confirm none of these debris are present in the product being sold to the public.