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The CBD Expert Series: Certificates of Analysis w/ Christina Bechard

Nick Musica, CEO of CBD Oil Review,  caught up with Christina Bechard at Hemp Bombs to talk about Certificates of Analysis (COAs) and why buying CBD products that have been tested is so important. Hemp Bombs is a Florida-based CBD manufacturer and a leading brand in the CBD industry. Hemp Bombs offers an extensive product line consisting of CBD oils, edibles, topicals, pet products, vapes, and more in a range of flavors and potencies. 

The Hemp Bombs team also aims to provide education about the evolving CBD industry. We’re currently focusing on how consumers can make informed decisions concerning the quality of CBD products available on the market.

Research, reviews, and transparency—don’t settle for the first company you see based on price or looks.  Take time to do your research regarding a prospective CBD brand.

Nick Musica (CBD Oil Review): Why should consumers buy CBD products that are tested?

Christina Bechard (Hemp Bombs): When you’re taking a product, especially one for your health and wellness, you want to be knowledgeable about what you’re putting into your body. Lab-tested products help keep consumers safe and ensure they are getting what they paid for. Many companies will market a product with 1000mg of CBD when it actually contains much less. Or even worse, products may contain questionable levels of THC after being advertised as THC-free.

What is a Certificate of Analysis (COA)?

A Certificate of Analysis is an authenticated report from a licensed lab that verifies the contents of a product. In the case of CBD products, it shows the number of various cannabinoids and other compounds like heavy metals, pesticides, etc. present. Not only does a COA certify that the components of a product match its advertised concentrations, but it also helps establish safety, transparency, and honesty within the CBD industry.

Are all COAs and lab results the same?

Even though specific standards exist, testing can vary from lab to lab. It’s part of the reason that you are seeing so many news stories about CBD products not containing the correct milligram concentrations. Small variations between lab equipment, how labs are testing the products and other factors can all lead to different lab results. CBD companies have the freedom to test for certain components (e.g. cannabinoids, terpenes, pesticides), so not all COAs and third-party lab test reports will have the same data. It’s up to a company to partner with accredited labs and set standard testing guidelines for how these products should be processed. 

What is the current state of regulations around CBD as compared to reality?

Since there are no existing rules and regulations set by the FDA regarding the CBD industry, much of a consumer’s decision will be reliant on their research. Reputable companies, like Hemp Bombs, will follow Good Manufacturing Practices, or GMPs, to meet certain regulatory standards. For example, CBD product labels should include a QR code, comprehensive ingredients list, and a disclaimer for the product. CBD companies should also keep their manufacturing facilities up to code. While there is no “set regulation” by the FDA, it is completely possible to make sure CBD manufacturing meets and even exceeds current industry standards.

How does someone choose a quality CBD brand?

Research, reviews, and transparency—don’t settle for the first company you see based on price or looks.  Take time to do your research regarding a prospective CBD brand. Verified reviews, whether it’s on the company’s website or elsewhere online, will help you determine what other customers think about the brand. Lastly, you will want to check a CBD brand’s transparency when it comes to souring, extraction, manufacturing, ingredients, and lab tests. If a company has information online, including in a Certificate of Analysis, or can answer these questions over the phone on how they complete these tasks, these are good signs of a quality CBD brand.  

COAs can be a little technical. How can Joe, a first-time consumer of CBD, read a Certificate of Analysis?

A COA allows a CBD consumer to see the quantity of the various cannabinoids in their product via an accredited lab. For starters, Joe should look to see when the product was tested, which is typically located at the top of the Certificate of Analysis. Next, he should check the THC levels from the COA. If the product contains above 0.3% THC, this is an illegal product. He will then want to make sure that the COA correctly reflects the milligram concentration labeled on the CBD product. 

If your CBD product is full- or broad-spectrum, the COA should list the levels of THC, CBDa, CBG, CBC, CBDN and any other cannabinoids listed on the product label. Some COAs will contain the letters NT (not tested) instead of ND (none detected), which signifies that a particular compound has not been tested for. You always want to see ND, as it shows that a company tested for that specific compound and did not find traceable amounts. While companies claim that they lab test their products in house, you will want your Certificate of Analysis to come from an accredited and unbiased third-party lab.

How often should CBD companies be testing products?

It’s not enough to just lab test one product, post the results and be done with it. Trusted companies should constantly be testing products to ensure that nothing in production has gone awry. Sometimes machines need to be recalibrated, or Standard Operating Procedures need to be revisited, but you won’t know without an up-to-date Certificate of Analysis. Be wary of lab tests that are months old. In this ever-changing industry, it’s unlikely that products are staying the same, so updated COAs keep those changes transparent for consumers.

At Hemp Bombs, we strive for quality through consistency. Not only do we conduct testing of our raw materials in-house, but we have also started implementing batch testing. Essentially, every batch of every product receives lab testing. We also do in-house lab testing at certain checkpoints of our in-house manufacturing process to keep an eye on the cannabinoid levels throughout production.

Where can a user find the Certificates of Analysis for CBD products?

If a person is purchasing CBD online, they should have access to the test results on the product page, or a lab test section on the company’s website. If the user does not see lab test results available online, this should be considered a huge red flag. A person who purchases CBD in a brick and mortar store, gas station, etc., should be able to find a QR code properly marked on their CBD product. A QR code is an easily scannable barcode that will bring up a product’s batch number, ingredient list and lab test. QR codes show you every test result regarding your specific product. 

What is the one thing you want readers take away from our chat about COAs?

You can never be too informed or overly educated. The CBD industry will continue to transform as it expands, changing the way COAs and lab test reports can be accessed and presented. Take the time to research your prospective CBD company and ensure that their Certificates of Analysis are accurate and up-to-date. COAs give the consumer quality assurance and confidence that the product they are consuming has the potential to benefit their health and wellness.


Be sure to check out the awesome infographic from Hemp Bombs that outlines what goes into ensuring you get the safest and most effective CBD products.

6 Smart Questions to Ask BEFORE You Buy CBD

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