COAs and Third-Party Tests Are B.S.
There are many “industry experts” reporting that a Certificate of Analysis (COA) will tell you if a CBD product is accurate and reliable. A COA is a third-party lab test that manufacturers display to “prove” that their products have the cannabinoids claimed on their label. We tested 65 products and found that COAs provided by the manufacturer are not reliable.
Nine of the products that we tested were over 30% inaccurate.
Of those nine misleading products, seven products came with a COA or
third-party lab test. Hemp
by Hemp, and CBDistillery
provided COAs and had misleading labels. For example, our lab results
found 69.13% fewer mg of CBD than claimed by the third-party test that Hemp
We conclude that COAs provided by a manufacturer do not
prove that a product has accurate CBD or cannabinoid levels. In fact, CBD
companies that have misleading labels are just as likely to provide a COA as the
companies that are incredibly accurate and honest.
“THC-free” CBD Products That Come with THC
Customers rely on CBD companies to be truthful about THC levels
for their employment, health, and safety as well as many legal reasons.
Five of the “THC-free” products that we tested contained
THC. Three out of the five products (Elixinol,
and Joy Organics)
that tested positive for THC
came with a Certificate of Analysis from the manufacturer that promised
0% THC. We conclude that a Certificate of Analysis provided by the manufacturer
does not guarantee a product is THC free.
Farms claims on its box that the product contains “no psychoactive THC” and
its website claims there are “no-side
effects.” However, we found the bottle contained a whopping 48 mg of
THC. Interestingly, its COA claimed that the product has THC, even though the
box and the marketing material suggest otherwise.
Why Are COAs Fake?
There are several reasons that a COA could show different
levels of cannabinoids than the particular bottle of CBD that you purchased.
The first thing you should know is that anyone can send a quality CBD product
to a third-party laboratory for testing. You could then post the COA of the
high-quality product on your website and sell something completely different.
Many of the COAs we came across showed different products,
unlabeled products, CBD isolate, or potent extracts that had not been mixed
into a final solution. You could easily take a product from a reliable
manufacturer, pour it into a different branded bottle, and send it to a lab.
Fraud happens, but there are numerous reasons why honest CBD companies provide
invalid lab tests.
Call up any cannabinoid testing facility and ask if all labs
are the same. Are they all accurate? You’ll get a laugh. It’s accepted in the
industry that testing is a giant mess and many facilities are unregulated and
inaccurate. A study published in the journal Nature concluded that a staggering
percentage of the third-party testing facilities in the state of Washington
provided unreliable testing results. An honest CBD company that tests
its products with an unreliable lab is doomed from the get-go.
Labs provide a service and CBD manufacturers are their
customers. Do you trust all labs to offer damaging information about their
clients? Do you believe all manufacturers provide multiple samples that are
identical to the bottles they will sell? Of course not—that’s why you are here.
We, at CBD Examine, chose an ISO17025 accredited lab in
California that is reputable and follows strict rules under the California
Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC). We pay the lab directly, which makes them
genuinely independent from the companies we test.
CBD Consistency is Difficult
Proper cannabinoid testing is difficult. Some of the best
CBD companies that we tested had products that were close to accurate and other
products that were 10-20% off. Companies are using hundreds of hemp plants,
with fluctuating nutrient levels, to produce hemp extracts. A full-spectrum
hemp extract is a plant extract and not an isolated chemical created in a lab.
Fresh orange juice will have fluctuating nutrient levels the same way hemp extracts
will have varying cannabinoid levels.
Good hemp companies spend tens of thousands of dollars every
month, testing their products to make sure they have accurate and consistent
hemp extracts. Their goal is to make a homogeneous product, where every little bottle
filled from a giant vat of hemp extract has the same cannabinoid levels. Creating
a consistent product is difficult. According to a cannabis lab technician I
spoke to in California, great companies will get within 10% accuracy, while
they are required by the California BCC to stay within 30% accuracy. The lab
will test several bottles from a batch of 100 bottles to ensure that they are
within 30% accuracy.
CBD from hemp, however, is unregulated. Some companies
produce batches of hemp extract that fill thousands of bottles and they are not
required to test multiple samples. Our lab, for example, requires at least 8
samples for every 1000 products developed. Multiple tests ensure that every
bottle will be similar. A product that is not homogeneous (consistent) could
have some bottles that come off the production line with too many cannabinoids
and others that have very few cannabinoids.
The risk consumers suffer is that a product
could come with a Certificate of Analysis (COA or lab test) from a CBD company
that has very different cannabinoids levels than the bottle in your hand. Every
bottle could be different. Plus, the company could frequently change crops,
testing processes, and manufacturing processes. Our goal is to improve our
testing methods by testing multiple samples from the same company. However, the
inconsistency and change in manufacturing processes is an admitted limitation
to CBD Examine or any other consumer advocacy group.
This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Our content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Read the disclaimer.