July 26, 2022
What is, and how do you read, a certificate of authenticity?

When browsing or purchasing a CBD product, it should always come with a certificate of authenticity or COA. If there isn’t one when you’re looking at something – be it in person or online – it’s best to get outta there. Quickly.

Keep in mind though that sometimes you’ll have to reach out to a company to obtain their COA if it’s not listed online. Some products also have a scannable QR code where the COA will pop up with everything important listed.


A certificate of authenticity is mainly for the customer (that’s you!) but it’s also for the company selling the goods. It’s a report that’s been sent to an accredited laboratory that confirms and details all of the substances found in the product you’re looking at. It’s meant to double-check the quality of the product and each batch of CBD products should be tested individually so there’s a COA per batch. There’re many third-party labs fulfilling COAs and they’re all accredited, so it’s easier for manufacturers to provide legitimate CBD analyses.


Well this might be a silly question, but… what is CBD again?


CBD stands for cannabidiol. It’s the naturally occurring and non-intoxicating compound found in marijuana that’s legal in most places. It’s packed with a variety of different benefits that’s helped people with a range of issues like sleep and insomnia, digestion, muscle recovery, and even certain mental disorders like anxiety and depression.


The coolest part is that CBD can be found in numerous forms like oils and gummies, and can even be baked into goodies like brownies – it’s almost like pot, but it’s better, because you can pretty much use it any time.


So how do you read a COA?


Most COAs follow a similar format. It might be a bit overwhelming to look at at first, but trust us – once you’ve figured out the formula, understanding them is a piece of cake.


Here’s a quick list of some of the things COAs should include:


  • The lab that conducted the testing (ie: botanacor)
  • The unique number assigned to the testing sample (ie: CHQ87265)
  • The name of the sample (ie: 3000mg/60mL tincture)
  • What the sample is (ie: oil)
  • Cannabidiol type: CBD isolate, full spectrum, or broad spectrum. Within that list should include all of the different types of recognizable cannabinoids found in your full/broad spectrum CBD product, as well as the percentage of THC. Please note that some compounds might have the label “ND” next to them, which stands for “non-detectable,” which also means there’s so little of that compound found in this product that it’s nearly imperceivable.
  • Weight percentage: usually to the right of the cannabinoid types, which lists the percentage by weight of each compound. The weight details only the weight of the product, not including the packaging.
  • Concentration: reports the concentration of each compound as found within the product and is usually measured in milligrams per gram (mg/g). CBD oils are the easiest to confirm that you’re getting what you’re paying for.
  • Heavy metal analysis: something no one wants in anything that they ingest, nevertheless CBD. When looking at a COA for heavy metals, you should look for two places: the tested concentration level of each heavy metal on the list, and the ingestion column under the “Use Limits” heading. The first shows how much metal was found in testing, and the second details the amount the government considers to be safe for consumption. The tested level should always be way, way under the ingestion use limit.
  • Pesticide analysis: when growing anything, from food to cannabis, bugs love to get in on that. COAs should include an analysis of commonly used pesticides, which looks similar to the heavy metal section. This includes the name of the pesticides found, levels of detection, acceptable level limits, and whether the results indicate a pass.

What to look out for?

  • Too little or too much THC: illegal! If there’s more than 0.2-0.3% THC, depending on where you live, that could be an illegal sale of CBD based on the legal limits of your place of residence. CBD manufacturers should ensure CBD products contain the amount of compounds they advertise.
  • In-house lab results: bias! Of course conducting analyses in-home allows places to take full advantage of the results and potentially skew them. The good part about third-party labs is that they have no stake in a company at all, which means their results should be clear and unbiased.
  • Unlisted compounds in full spectrum products: if you don’t see cannabinoids like CBDa, CBN, and CBC on the list — toss it and move on! It’s a fluke.

Wanna try practicing reading some yourself? Click on the images to enlarge.