Indications That a Certificate of Analysis is Legitimate

Just like a store who supplies cannabis products, the consumer also wants to know that the cannabis they are buying is safe for consumption. One of the best ways to determine this is by asking to see a CoA, or Certificate of Analysis. Each properly manufactured cannabis product will have a CoA.

As cannabis products provided in the legal cannabis states get stronger and more diverse, more consumers are demanding that their cannabis products achieve compliance and meet GMP standards—good manufacturing practices—much like prescription medication is today.

It’s no surprise that manufacturers or unscrupulous business owners may try to get around this compliance by supplying fake CoAs. Simply seeing a sheet of paper isn’t enough for a consumer to accept it. There can be high risks with purchasing a product that isn’t cannabis, or contains other drugs or chemicals, or cannabis that has the wrong amounts of beneficial chemicals, or that has been contaminated with other substances.

Here are a few tips to help you determine if that certificate of analysis is legitimate.

  • First of all, each and every product must have a CoA—oil, dried, extract, butter, etc.  If you purchase two different batches of the same product, each batch should have its own CoA.
  • There can be a lot of information on a CoA. You want to check that the batch numbers match, and the dates match.
  • The THC content and CBD content should be listed per serving, which is usually in milligrams per serving. There may also be other cannabinoids or terpenes listed, if they have been verified by the certificate. There may be a graphic displaying these values as percentages.
  • There should also be a pass rating or approved lab analysis. You’ll see on the report how there will be listed contents for foreign matter inspection, moisture content, and microbial screen. The ratings should be displayed as “PASS”.
  • The report should list what the sample tested was and the date tested.  Sometimes there will be a picture of the sample.  There should be a description of the sample which matches the product type.  
  • Tests should reference test methods numbers or codes.  Test methods ensure the test was conducted using a determined set of instructions that has been proven to be effective. 
  • The technician performing the test must initial or sign that they completed the test and record the date the test was completed. Finally, the CoA will be approved by a high-ranking scientist.

If you’re in any doubt, ask to see CoAs for a variety of cannabis products. If they’re all the same, then that’s a red flag. If each is unique, then chances are increased that they’re genuine.  This is because each product type will require unique testing to ensure the product is safe and pure.  For example, you wouldn’t test a soda for purity the same way you would test an orange.  Each one has a different set of parameters.

One final step in determining if the CoA for a cannabis product is legitimate is by finding out if the testing laboratory is genuine, and where they’re located. If you have any doubts, don’t be afraid of contacting them. Laboratories take compliance seriously and want to know if someone is faking CoAs in their name. An investigation can be opened, and the cannabis business or the cannabis manufacturer can be shut down based on state laws.

It’s important to check the CoA of every cannabis product supplied by a cannabis manufacturer, whether you’re the seller or the consumer.