What is a COA and How Can I Understand It?
COA is an acronym that stands for certificate of analysis. The COA is used in the context of cannabis to provide detailed confirmation that the cannabis product is properly regulated and adheres to exact specifications. In short, the COA is important as it provides consumers with the information they need to trust the products they purchase. The quickest, easiest and most accurate way to determine if a cannabis product is trustworthy is to analyze the COA.
A Deep Dive Into the COA
The COA is best described as a printed document that confirms the cannabis product has the specifications claimed in advertising and packaging. The COAs considered to be legitimate are produced at accredited laboratories. These COAs have results that stem from the quality control process. Such analysis is essential to consumer trust as it reassures buyers that the cannabis product has the CBD and THC levels advertised.
The sad truth is nearly three-quarters of all CBD products sold on the web are not properly labeled. Some such products contain no CBD. Other products have THC levels that can lead to undesired side effects for an individual seeking a low dose.
A Closer Look at COA in the Context of Cannabis
COAs are used for products of all types. However, COAs are especially important for cannabis products. A cannabis product’s COA serves as a quality check to guarantee the product has been properly inspected. Those who purchase cannabis items for medicinal, therapeutic and recreational purposes deserve to know what is in them and also be reassured that those components are actually in the products. A cannabis product sold without a COA is simply not worth buying.
The most respected COAs are conducted by a properly accredited third-party. Furthermore, the results of the COA should be easily accessible. Trustworthy dispensaries and other cannabis merchants will provide in-depth COA reports on their website. Some such merchants even include a scannable QR code.
Other dispensaries and cannabis businesses are willing to provide consumers with COAs at their request. Businesses that provide COAs on request do so as they likely use several accredited testing facilities. A business that fails to provide a COA or provides one that looks outdated is not worthy of your trust. Above all, the safety of the product matters more than anything as an unsafe cannabis item has the potential to compromise your health.
An Analogy Worth Considering
COA tests are similar to blood tests ordered by physicians. The test can cover a litany of unique components yet the nuances of the initial request ultimately determine what, exactly, is analyzed and presented for review. The bottom line is it is in your interest as a consumer to know as much as possible about the cannabis products you consume. Invest the time necessary to read through the COA and you will have the confidence necessary to purchase the product you have in mind or leave it on the shelf.
Reading the COA
Reading a COA might seem a bit intimidating yet there is no reason to be afraid of this document’s complexity. These reports have generalized components that you can analyze with ease. The upper section of the report features the name of the product, the name of the business that ordered the test, the date and the batch number. Such information must be uniform, even if the information below is extensively detailed. In particular, it will help to zero in on the date to ensure it is recent.
The batch number must match the batch number of the product you are attempting to purchase. The report’s body will vary as a result of specifications provided to the lab as each company wants labs to test for specific components and other details. Move your eyes to the body and you’ll find the test results divided into specific categories such as cannabinoid concentrates and terpene profile.
The cannabinoid concentrates list the entirety of the cannabinoids the producer determines worthy of testing including CBD, THC, CBG and CBC. These results are essential to the quality of the product, especially for consumers who are looking for specific benefits when consuming cannabis.
The terpene profile details the scent of the plant. Terpenes also play an important role in the strain’s therapeutic properties. Shift your attention to the pesticides section and you’ll have a better sense of whether the product is safe. If pesticides are listed, you should know they pose a health risk in terms of your hormones, neurology, reproductive system and facets of development.
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