In a study performed in 2020, at least 33 percent—more than double from the year before—of the US population had tried CBD or were regular CBD users. The rapid growth of interest in CBD (cannabidiol) really doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, you don’t have to look far to find fascinating, promising research into the many benefits of CBD.
If you are planning to try CBD for yourself, learning how to locate the highest-quality CBD possible is a worthy time investment. The quality of the end experience with any CBD is reliant on the quality of the product. How do you know the CBD you’re looking at is good quality? By examining CBD lab reports or a CBD COA (Certificate of Analysis).
At fabuleaf, we’re major CBD/hemp supporters, but we also know that the benefits of CBD may never be realized if a customer first uses a poor-quality product. So we’ve pulled together this crash course in CBD lab reports, why the reports are important, and how to read a CBD lab report to know you get only the best CBD.
What Is a Certificate of Analysis or CBD Lab Report?
A CBD certificate of analysis, which may also be referred to as a CBD lab report, is a scientific document provided by a third-party (unaffiliated) lab that performed quality tests on the product. The best CBD companies will seek out these tests to offer customers reassurance about specific products.
The scientists at the independent lab will essentially perform a series of tests to analyze a number of properties of the CBD product. For example, the scientists will examine the chemical makeup of the CBD and if the CBD product is found to have known contaminants. Their findings are then recorded in the COA, and the COA is returned to the manufacturer.
The Importance of CBD Lab Reports
CBD lab testing gives you an unbiased look at the product, what cannabinoids it contains, and more. You can rest assured a CBD product is what you expect when the product has been properly tested. Even further, a published COA is also a reflection of the supplier’s commitment to making sure their customers are getting a quality, reliable CBD product.
Sadly, not all CBD manufacturers follow the same quality standards. In a study to determine the labeling accuracy of online-purchased CBD, some products were found to contain less CBD than advertised. Even more concerning, 18 of the 84 products tested contained more than the legally allowable 0.3 percent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Many wellness products are created under stringent regulations set forth by the Food and Drug Administration. This essentially means the FDA says the product must be made to certain standards before it can be legally sold. So far, because CBD is a relatively new product, the market is not regulated by the FDA.
An unregulated product doesn’t necessarily mean that the product is bad. In fact, quite the contrary can hold true for many products, including CBD. The real truth is, FDA regulation can take a notoriously long time to establish. So, while the non-regulated CBD market is not a bad thing, it does leave the investigation of a product’s quality up to you, the consumer. A COA makes your investigative efforts far easier.
What to Look for in a CBD Lab Report
Armed with the knowledge of what a COA is and why it’s important, you now need to know how to read a CBD lab report. Some reports can get a bit complicated when you don’t have scientific expertise. But, you primarily need to know how to pinpoint specific pieces of information in the report.
First, is the lab an independent facility that is ISO-Certified?
Check out the given lab report, find the name of the lab, and do a bit of investigating. The lab named on the CBD COA should be a third-party, independent entity. Check to see if the testing lab is ISO (International Organization for Standardization) Certified, which means the laboratory follows international standards with the services provided. In other words, the designation makes the testing lab much more credible.
Check out one of our COAs here, which clearly shows who did the testing (DB Labs in Las Vegas, NV, which is ISO-Certified) and how to find out more about the lab:
What sample was tested?
Check to see what exactly was tested by the lab. You do have to be watchful here; what was actually tested can have an effect on the rest of the information. For example, some companies may offer a COA that shows you the analysis of the undiluted CBD extract. The extract may have been used to make CBD oil, but the extract would have been suspended in a carrier oil. Therefore, the extracted cannabinoids will be further diluted.
Take a look at the COA for fabuleaf Full Spectrum Hemp Flower CBD Oil Softgels 300mg. You can clearly see that it was the actual CBD softgels that were tested by the lab:
What is the cannabinoid profile and potency?
Cannabinoid profile and potency should be one of the first things you find on a CBD lab report. Cannabinoids like CBD, THC, CBG (cannabigerol), and others are the potentially therapeutic molecules found in hemp. Therefore, every COA should offer a detailed cannabinoid profile that shows you what cannabinoids are present and how much of each detectable cannabinoid is found in the product.
For example, the COA for fabuleaf Full Spectrum Hemp Flower CBD Oil 300mg offers this cannabinoid profile:
From this information in the CBD oil COA, we can see that the full-spectrum product contains 9.7mg per gram (0.9723 percent) of CBD, but also just over 10mg of total cannabinoids. You also get an in-depth overview of what cannabinoids are present and how much.
What is the terpene profile and potency?
Terpenes, which are molecules that give each hemp strain its trademark aromatics and flavor, may offer their own therapeutic benefits. Further, terpenes may support the functions of the cannabinoids through the entourage effect. You will generally find terpenes in only broad or full-spectrum CBD products.
Take a look at the terpene profile and potency of those terpenes found in the COA for fabuleaf’s 1500mg Full Spectrum Hemp Flower CBD Oil:
From this terpene analysis, we can see that the CBD oil contains more than 0.8mg of total terpenes per unit. We can also see that the most noteworthy terpenes in this CBD oil include caryophyllene and nerolidol.
Does the product contain less than 0.3 percent Delta-9 THC?
To be legal, the 2018 Farm Bill established that CBD products needed to contain no more than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC, which is the known intoxicating cannabinoid in hemp. Therefore, to make sure your CBD is legal, examine the COA to find the total THC content.
Below, you will see the total THC content (delta-8 and delta-9 THC), as well as the delta-9 THC content highlighted in the COA of our Full-Spectrum CBD Oil. At just 0.033 percent delta-9 THC, the product is well within legal limits:
Is a purity analysis provided?
A purity analysis is extremely important when looking at a CBD certificate of analysis. The purity analysis is going to give you a look at whether the tested product contained detectable levels of things you don’t want in your body. Some examples of what a lab may test for include:
- Pesticides like abamectin, spinosad, or plant growth regulators
- Microbial agents like E. Coli and Salmonella
- Heavy metals like arsenic, lead, or mercury
- Solvent residues like butane or propane
- Mycotoxins like aflatoxin or ochratoxin A
Our CBD COAs at fabuleaf give a clear view of what was tested during the analysis across the top as shown below. However, you can also see the detailed analysis of each of the mentioned criteria and components tested for further into the document.
What date was the lab analysis administered?
Finally, the one last thing to check on a CBD certificate of analysis is when the lab analysis was administered. It is relatively common for products to be tested annually or every other year. So, you should primarily be looking to make sure the testing was done within the prior few years. Outdated COAs may not accurately reflect the quality of the currently listed products.
Our Lab Testing Standards
Here at fabuleaf, we make sure every product we offer is fully tested by an independent laboratory for quality, safety, and potency. We know how imperative it is that you have full transparency when buying a CBD product, and try to make getting that information as easy as possible. You can find all the Certificates of Analysis for our products on our website, but you can also scan the QR code on each of our products for quick access to lab reports.
Take a look at our full collection of full-spectrum CBD products and their CBD lab reports.
Thanks for joining us and taking the time to read our latest guide. I hope that it’s provided value to your life and helped to inform you about the importance of lab testing CBD products.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave us a message in the comments.
The information contained in this article is not intended to serve as a substitute for advice or guidance from a certified doctor or health professional. Before trying Cannabidiol (CBD) or purchasing any CBD product, you should always conduct your own research and consult with your doctor. While Cannabidiol (CBD) is classified as “generally well tolerated with a good safely profile” by the World Health Organization (WHO), more research is needed in order to fully evaluate the safety and effectiveness of CBD on a personalized basis.
fabuleaf™ products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.