What is a CBD COA and How to Read One

CBD lab test results - COA

Unfortunately, the CBD industry isn’t heavily regulated at the moment. This means that a lot of products can be incorrectly labeled or the CBD content not included at all. Needless to say, you need to know how much CBD is in a product before you take it.

Thankfully, there’s a way to be sure of everything with a COA. This is a specific certificate that should come with every CBD product you buy – if there isn’t one, then that’s already a red flag.

What is a COA, and following this, how do you read it? Both of these questions will be answered down below:

What is a COA?

CBD COA example COA stands for Certificate of Analysis. For all intents and purposes, it is a lab report that details the chemical make-up of a CBD product. You will see precisely what cannabinoids are present in the product, along with the quantity. So, if you wanted to know the exact amount of CBD – and various other cannabinoids and terpenes – in a product, then the COA is the best way to check.

Additionally, a COA should also provide a purity analysis that explains if there is any foreign matter in the product – such as pesticides, microbials, solvents, etc.

COAs are essential as they show you that a company has actually sent its products out for testing. This should give you peace of mind that they’re trustworthy, and that the product you’re buying is as advertised.

How do you read a COA?

Here’s how you should read your certificate:

  • Check for lab information at the top of the page: Take a look at the top left corner of your lab results and see if there’s a brand logo or some information on the laboratory that conducted the test. This seems trivial, but it’s essential. If there’s no info on who conducted the test, then you can’t trust its legitimacy!
  • Check for company information: Underneath the lab info, there will usually be information on the company selling the CBD product. For example, our products will display Bioactive Solutions, inc in this spot. Again, this is important as it lets you know which company sought out the tests. This prevents instances where a company can get their hands on someone else’s COA and pass it off as their own.
  • Double-check the product: The product information should then be below the company info. Double-check this to be sure that you’ve got the right COA for your particular product. It’s rare, but some COAs can get mixed up.
  • Look at the cannabinoid and terpene breakdown: You should see two clear headings that tell you all the various cannabinoids and terpenes within the product. Obviously, CBD and THC are the main things to look at first. But, consider the amount and potency of other cannabinoids and terpenes that can be beneficial to your health as well.
  • Check the purity/safety: There should be a section titled ‘Safety’ that tells you if the product passes the necessary tests to show it doesn’t include various harmful substances. If you move on to page two, there’s a detailed breakdown of all the foreign matter that the product has been tested for, complete with any amounts.

There are other things on the certificate, but these are the essential ones to look at. The only other thing that may interest you is the contact information at the bottom of the sheet for the lab. If you wanted to reach out to them for more info, then you can.

A key thing to take into consideration is how the CBD/THC content is measured. Typically, it’s in mg per unit. However, it can also be in mg per gram, or mg per milliliter. If it is measured per unit, then it will tell you under the measurements what a unit consists of – it’s typically just the total product.

4 key things to be wary of

Upon reading the COA, you need to be wary of three things:

  • Over 0.3% THC: By law, you can’t have more than this amount of THC in a CBD product.
  • CBD differences: Check that the CBD content in the lab report is the same as advertised on the product label. Sometimes there will actually be less than advertised, so look out for this.
  • In-house testing: One of the reasons you should pay attention to the lab and company information is to be sure it’s not the same company! If the company selling the CBD product conducts its own tests, then can you really trust them?
  • Foreign matter: Be sure that there isn’t any foreign matter in the product as it can be potentially harmful to you. Some CBD products actually contain heavy metals – like lead – which can obviously be poisonous when consumed in large quantities. This is why the purity test is so crucial as it lets you know the product is safe and free from any dangerous things.


The bottom line is that every CBD product should have a COA. Next time you get your hands on a new product, be sure you follow these tips to check the report thoroughly.

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