A Certificate of Analysis Is Your Key to Finding the Best CBD

How to Read a Certificate of Analysis

It’s the liquid in the bottle that brings people so much hope — those dealing with anxiety, chronic pain, sleep deprivation, addiction and more, who believe cannabidiol (CBD) oil brings them much-needed relief. But it’s the words and numbers on a piece of paper that provide those same people with certainty that what they’re getting is the real thing.

The Certificate of Analysis — CoA for short — is how responsible CBD vendors like Nature’s Highway prove their products contain everything they say it does. With no federal regulation of the cannabis industry, and only a few states regulating hemp-derived products for something other than industrial use, it falls on producers to prove both the purity of their merchandise, as well as detail everything that’s inside that bottle of tincture, that tube of cream, or that edible gummy.

That verification is performed by an independent lab — in the case of Nature’s Highway, DB Labs of Las Vegas, which was founded in 2014 and has since become a gold-certified lab offering stringent, high-quality analysis. The lab supplies a CoA for each type of CBD product, and responsible vendors like Nature’s Highway post those CoAs on their website, as opposed to other companies who force potential customers to contact them and ask for a CoA — or, don’t subject their products to any independent analysis at all.

The ABCs of a CoA

A CoA breaks down whether the product is isolate (which is only CBD, with all other compounds extracted) or distillate (which contains not just CBD but also other beneficial compounds such as aromatic terpenes and vitamins). The lab report details the amount of THC — the compound which induces a high in marijuana, a cannabis cousin to cannabidiol — which by law cannot exceed .3 percent in CBD. It determines whether the product contains any heavy metals, pesticides, or other impurities. And it confirms the amount of CBD in the product, typically in milligrams of CBD or milligrams of CBD per gram.

A good CoA will contain dates of when the product was sampled and tested, and provide easy-to-read pass/fail grades for each area tested. Responsible companies test not just the CBD that goes into each product type, but the CBD derived from each new batch, keeping the results up-to-date. That independent verification is important because even some larger, well-known companies have been exposed for not putting as much CBD into their product as they claimed to. A recent CBS News study tested product from nine different CBD producers, and found five contained far less or far more CBD than advertised.

All of which makes the CoA so vital in building consumer confidence. In addition to verifying the purity of the CBD, consumers will notice the term “<LOQ” next to long lists of other compounds — that stands for below the limit of quantification, or less than the amount being tested for, which is a good thing when it comes to any pesticides, impurities, or THC. Consumers seeking an isolate product will also notice that <LOQ alongside other cannabidiol by-products, which are removed in the process of making a tincture, cream or gummy comprised solely of CBD.

Products backed by science

Full of strange terminology and an alphabet soup of abbreviations, CoAs can be intimidating for those who have never viewed one before. But the key element— how much CBD — should be easily detectible, and is often found in bold type near the top of the first page. Responsible CBD providers are also happy to help explain the elements of a CoA to customers, because a full understanding of what’s in that bottle or tube cultivates greater faith in the product.

The CBD industry is relatively new, exploding onto the scene after industrial hemp was legalized by the federal government in late 2017. But until federal regulation follows—and when and if that happens, no one quite knows — there will be companies that try to take advantage of the regulatory vacuum by hawking products that contain too little CBD, too much THC, trace elements of pesticides, or worse. By contrast, a CoA produced by a reputable independent lab elevates those CBD companies willing to back their products by science.

A lab in glitzy Las Vegas is a long way from the farm in rural Neeses, S.C., where Nature’s Highway hemp is planted, cultivated and harvested. But both places are part of the same effort — to bring clarity and confidence to the consumer looking for the highest-quality CBD.



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Please consult with a doctor prior to use.

In keeping with FDA regulations, Nature’s Highway does not make specific claims,​ but encourages customers to seek out more information about usage and benefits from trusted third-party sources.

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