What is a Certificate Of Analysis (COA)

Certificates of Analysis are provided by registered laboratories that give a chemical analysis of a substance or product.

COA’s are based on standard chemical analysis methods, typically using gas-chromatography and, or High-Performance Liquid Chromatography.

These machines are calibrated to detect the presence, absence, or percentage of a chemical compound based on dry-mass bases. 

Why is a COA important for Industrial Hemp?

Current policy, regulation, and laws governing the Hemp industry arbitrarily define a legal or non-legal cannabis crop by the presence of more than 0.3% Total THC per dry-mass bases. 

Hemp COA’s are required for “in-field” crop sampling and analysis mandated by the Farm Bill to be performed by each State’s regulatory agency, and now, the USDA. 

In essence, it determines if you are allowed to harvest your legal CBD buds.  

Additional Tests to Consider

Additional analyses can be determined and are available as “full-panel testing.” Though not required by law, they include the ability to analyze harmful mold/yeast, microbes, heavy metals, pesticides, and for a benefit, terpenes. 

An analysis of your hemp crop will provide you with results that reflect a certificate of quality that buyers and sellers use to justify the price of CBD bud or derivative product. 

Keep on reading for a deep dive with us to learn the role COAs play in the industrial hemp market. 

 

USDA Approved Certified Organic Hemp

USDA Certified Organic hemp flowers are certified by third-party contractors. The USDA allows Hemp to be Certified Organic if the farmland that the plant completed its life cycle on has gone through third-party certification, and certification is approved by USDA.

How to Get a Certificate of Analysis

Certificates of Analysis are obtained through a licensed and registered lab that goes through an audit process by various certified third-party contractors, reviewed and granted certification by DEA, USDA ISO, IEC, and others.  

Once you find a COA laboratory that meets the requirements for hemp results, the COA lab will provide the appropriate sampling procedure and handling materials for analysis.  

Standard Procedures for Testing Hemp

Today, there is not a universally accepted standard for taking hemp samples. When sampling hemp, it is prudent to make a homogeneous representation for each batch.  

Remember, the COA samples you pay for only provide a mere glimpse of analysis when the hemp sample of your material is analyzed at the laboratory.  

Materials and products left in environmental conditions that are not conducive to preserving the current disposition of your hemp crop may lead to material degradation, and potential spikes and/or drops in your product’s chemical composition. 

What is the Cost to Obtain a COA?

Costs vary, but for a standard potency test that reflects the THC percentage concerning each other, Cannabinoid is anywhere from $30-$80.  

This price increases with additional full-panel analysis. For any product or material intended for consumption, we recommend the full-panel testing mentioned above, when selling or purchasing hemp flowers.  

It is helpful to familiarize yourself with allowable limits to determine pass/fail standards that States with medical and recreational cannabis required for consumer safety, especially for smokable CBD flowers and when purchasing hemp wholesale.

How to read a COA

Our local lab New Bloom Lab has an educational page on Sample Collection Guidelines and is our preferred lab.

Every COA that comes from a certified lab will have an identification number associated with that sample. If you receive a COA from a vendor, contact the lab related to that sample to verify its authenticity.

When selling or purchasing a crop, understanding the percentage of cannabinoids, the Total THC, terpene profile, and full-panel analysis, will factor into the agreed-upon value of the material sampled.

Conclusion

Certificates of analysis are essential for quality control through the chain of custody from plant to the final product. Organization and documentation of compliant products will help to ensure consumer safety, thus supporting industry standards. 

 

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