A Certificate of Analysis (CoA) is a document provided by a third party (generally a lab) that analyses the various compounds found in your cannabis. This can include outlining a strain’s cannabinoid and terpene profile as well as testing for other crucial factors like pesticide residues or heavy metals. You can also find other information in a CoA such as manufacturer information, testing method used, and batch data. While not all manufacturers are not required to provide CoAs, you may be able to find them available online.
Your local budtender may also be able to point you in the right direction. Some products even have scannable QR codes that link directly to a CoA report. You can get CoAs for many different cannabis products including flower, tincture and even edibles. The ultimate function of a CoA is to ensure a product’s content matches what was advertised. As such the first element to consider when reading a CoA is who the test was conducted by. This information can be found at the top of the first page. You should always check to ensure the company who performed the test is not the original manufacturer as this is the best way to ensure independence and impartiality. You can determine potency by evaluating the concentrations of each cannabinoid present in the sample. Most CoAs will list cannabinoids in a column on the far left. This column may be labeled, “ID,” “Analyte,” or even just the name of the cannabinoids themselves.
Both major cannabinoids (THC or CBD) as well as “minor” cannabinoids like THCA are reflected here. To the right of this column you’ll find potency results. Potency is determined by measuring the concentration of cannabinoids present in terms of total percentage by weight (mass). This can also be expressed as cannabinoid concentration in milligrams (mg) and may be featured in a column titled “Conc” (short for concentration). One quick note on how THC and CBD levels are reported. Most labs don’t heat cannabis samples before testing them, so the THCA has not yet been converted into THC, a process called decarboxylation. Usually, labs will only predict the THC levels that will be in the final product should it be decarboxylated completely. For example, in the examples below, the lab has multiplied the THCA levels by a conversion factor to account for the decarboxylation process, predicting what the THC levels will likely be even though the majority of it is still THCA. You may also spot a few specialized terms in a CoA. Short for “below level of quantification,” this term is used to denote concentrations so small they do not meet the qualifying threshold for cannabinoid content. Short for “limit of quantification,” this is the smallest concentration that can be accurately quantified. “Limit of detection,” or LOD, is the smallest amount of cannabinoid(s) that can be detected by the instrument. Many CoAs also provide information on the water content of a strain. This can be expressed as “moisture method,” “moisture content” or “loss on drying.” Loss on drying tests for the percentage of water content in the final product. This analysis tests for the presence of any possible contaminants. A few common ones to look out for include: Microbial contaminants. Predetermined contaminant limits are established for each, i.e. “(Limit: Candian based Aurora also provide certificates of analysis for their strains. Here’s one for their Blue Dream varietal, dubbed “Ambition.” Like East Fork’s CoA, this CoA also begins by listing relevant lab and manufacturer information up top. Overall potency of cannabinoids (“total THC equivalents”; “total CBD equivalents”) is listed first, expressed as a percentage of overall weight. The report then dives into minor cannabinoid concentrations before analyzing terpene content. A contaminant analysis follows along with notes on details of testing. Janelle is a writer, artist and Cannabidiol (CBD) expert.
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Home » How to Read a COA and Why It’s So Important. You may have noticed recent headlines that warn against inaccurate hemp and cannabis product labels. Studies like the one published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) show that product labels often miscalculate cannabinoid potency or fail to report the existence of cannabinoids that are present in the products. In a study of 84 hemp labels, JAMA found that nearly 70% either over or under-represented their CBD potency. Moreover, 18 of the 84 hemp products contained THC.