Why Are COAs Important?

What is a COA?

A certificate of analysis (COA) is a document which reveals the identity and attributes of a product that has undergone scientific testing by an accredited laboratory. This kind of testing is common in all types of industries, such as pharmaceuticals, food, cannabis, and more. The most common factors tested for in the cannabis industry are: cannabinoids, terpenes, moisture, pesticides, heavy metals, residual solvents, microbes, and mycotoxins.

What can a COA do for me?

COAs help to assure vendors and consumers that the products they are buying are of high quality. Items that are sold without a COA may have incorrect cannabinoid concentrations listed, which can lead to inconsistent effects, or contain more than the federally allowed 0.3% D9-THC limit. Only products which are tested can be assured to contain the advertised content. Products which contain natural or added terpenes may also be tested for terpenoid content, which provides insight into the taste, smell, and effects that any given terpene blend might offer. 

Other factors such as pesticides, heavy metals, or residual solvents, can pose significant health risks and should be avoided. Buying tested products ensures that you are safe from these risks. 

How do I read a COA?

While COAs may appear somewhat confusing at first glance, there is some terminology that can help you to better understand the information they present. When reading a COA, you may notice the acronyms LOD (limit of detection) and LOQ (limit of quantitation) being used. Limit of detection is the lowest possible value that can be accurately detected using the lab’s given analytical procedure. Limit of quantitation is the lowest value that can be detected and quantified with certainty.

These values are dependent on the analysis procedure used by the laboratory, and should not be taken as representative of a percentage of the product. You can read more about these terms here. For an accurate percentage or measurement, please refer to the concentration of mass. This is most commonly measured with milligrams per gram (mg/g).

Some factors, such as heavy metals, may have an acceptable range of concentration. This is most common in raw plant products, which absorb heavy metals from minerals in the ground, and are prone to contamination from processing machinery. Products which fall within the acceptable limits will be marked as “pass”. Products may also be marked with ND (not detectable), NT (not tested), or NR (not run).

How do I know I can trust a COA?

Testing laboratories in the United States are required by various state and federal laws to adhere to certain standards which ensure that all testing is being done properly. There are several standards used, but one of the most common of these standards is ISO 17025, which is set by the International Organization for Standardization, and is used in over 160 countries worldwide. Labs are not certified by this organization, but are instead accredited to meet these standards by a third party, which is in turn accredited by organizations such as the International Accreditation Service, or the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation. This means that there are several layers of verification proving that the analysis procedure used to produce a COA is scientifically valid. 

To confirm that test results have not been fabricated or tampered with, you can contact the laboratory using the info listed on the page. You should also check that your COA is up to date, as a certificate of analysis is needed for each individual batch that is produced. 

Where do I find a COA?

Each product should have a COA listed on the page. All of our products are guaranteed to be tested. You can find a full list of our testing here.

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