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How to Read a CBD or Cannabis COA?

Cannabis and CBD labels can get a little difficult to decipher. This is especially true when there is no single body of federal status to control what goes onto the labels. Since cannabis and CBD products lack any uniform instructions for labeling, relying completely on what the label states might not be enough.

As medical and recreational consumers, you must find other ways to ensure the quality of the products you’ve chosen. And you can do exactly that with a certificate of analysis.

What is a Certificate of Analysis?

A certificate of analysis (COA) refers to third-party lab results that verify the quality, potency, and consistency of your cannabis and CBD products. Legitimate brands partner with these laboratories that can provide honest results. If a brand supports an in-house laboratory, the results can be feigned. This is why it is always preferable to believe third-party results.

In the case of recreational cannabis, going through the COA thoroughly becomes exceptionally crucial. However, if you’re a marijuana card holder and access products from dispensaries, you’re in safer hands. The recommendation that you get from an Ohio MMJ Card Doctor can save you from coming across illegally manufactured and distributed cannabis products.

How to Read a Certificate of Analysis?

To read a COA, you must first be aware of everything you must look for.

Starting with,

  • Header

  1. Company and Lab Name

  2. Batch Number

  3. Description

  4. Report Date

  • Result Summary

  • Potency of Cannabinoids and Terpenes

  • Presence of Contaminants

  • Footer


You’ll be able to find the company and lab name in the header of the results. This will confirm that the company hasn’t attached the results from an in-house quality control lab. You can also check out the legitimacy and credentials of the third-party laboratory.

Other information that you can find in the header includes the batch number, the report date, and the description. The report date is a crucial detail that ensures that the report is recent. The batch number and description help you ascertain that you are in fact, looking at the COA of the product you wish to purchase.

Result Summary

In most COAs, you can find a result summary on the very first page. This usually tells you if the product has passed all the safety checks as well as gives you a basic idea of the overall potency of cannabinoids.

However, for more details about the potency of cannabinoids or the result of quality checks, you must check the following.

Potency of Cannabinoids and Terpenes

The next section of your COA must include a detailed explanation of all the cannabinoids and terpenes detected in the product. Here, you should be able to tell the precise amount (both in “mg” and “percentage”) of different cannabinoids like CBD, CBDV, CBDA, THC (Delta 9), THCV, THC (Delta 8), CBG, CBGA, CBN, CBC, etc. Along with these individual cannabinoids, you’ll also be able to read the total CBD (CBD + CBDV + CBDA), total THC (THC + THCV + THC Delta 8), and other cannabinoids present in the product.

Apart from these, the terpenes found in the product will also be on full display. Most commonly found terpenes can be limonene, myrcene, pinene, linalool, bisabolol, and caryophyllene, amongst others.

Note: When purchasing a CBD product that contains THC, the potency of the individual Delta 9 THC should be less than or equal to 0.3%. The total THC concentration, which includes THCV and Delta 8, will be greater than this percentage.

Presence of Contaminants

This section includes all the contaminants that the product has been tested for. Most safety test results include:

  • Residual Solvents

  • Mycotoxins

  • Heavy Metals

  • Pesticides, etc.

The “analyte” in this section refers to the most common contaminants that can be harmful if consumed. For instance, you might find “arsenic” and “mercury” as analytes under heavy metals or aflatoxin B1 and aflatoxin G2 under mycotoxins.

Pay close attention to the terms “<LOQ” and “Passed” under the result section. <LOQ translates to less than the limit of quantification, meaning that the contaminant is below the safety limit.

If a product does not have a dedicated section for this safety analysis, you should switch to a product that does.


Finally, once you’ve read through the complete COA, you can find more details about the third-party lab in the footer. You’ll also come across any terms and conditions or affiliations between the company and the lab that you should be aware of.

Some common things that you should look for here are:

  • Signatures, of a laboratory official

  • A license number

  • In some cases, the lab might also have a CLIA number (not compulsory in this case)

Keeping these things in mind can help you decide if a product is worth being bought or not. In case of missing details regarding any of the pointers discussed above, we recommend that you switch to another brand that provides full disclosure.

Many thanks to Ohio MMJ Card Doctor for this awesome information. If you would like us to share your blogs, email us on


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