What is a CBD Certificate of Analysis (COA) and Why is it Important to You?

A Certificate of Analysis (COA) AKA independent 3rd party testing is a scientific document and isn’t always the easiest thing to read for non-scientists. We interviewed the head of “Canalysis Laboratories” and the result is a detailed video guide on how 3rd party testing are done and how to get the important information out of the document and how to understand what is important in that document.
Zora Degrandpre
Written by Zora Degrandpre, MS, ND
Last Updated
COA

A COA (or C of A) is a “Certificate of Analysis” and is one of the most important tools you have to determine the quality and purity of a CBD product. It is also the most important tool you have to ensure that you are getting the amount of CBD you are paying for. Our recommendation is that you only buy CBD from companies that have their products 3rd party lab tested.

Why is a COA important? Because the CBD market right now is not regulated. Now, many people have an immediate reaction to regulation. They think it must be bad and they are AGAINST REGULATIONS!! But, remember, regulations are the rules that keep people from selling meat that has gone bad, spinach and other foods with bacterial contamination (like E. coli), and keep your air and water clean. Regulation also keeps drugs that cause serious and perhaps deadly side effects off the market and can keep dangerous products off the market. Regulations also require that the seller provide you the consumer with valid and accurate information about their product—especially about substances that you take into your body or onto your skin. 3rd party testing—and the COAs they produce can protect you on a number of levels—they can tell you that you are buying what you think you are buying and they can tell you that there are no other components of the product that may harm you—now or in the future. These COAs are also a reflection of the company’s commitment to transparency and accuracy in labeling their product—and that the company cares enough about the consumer to make the product as pure as possible.

We recommend you before you watch the video, to read below some basic terms that are used to describe how and what is analyzed.

Watch the full in-depth video to learn all about CBD Certificate of Analysis:

You can also read the video transcript here

Next article:  “Dig Into” a Real COA: How to Read a CBD Certificate of Analysis (COA) Video Guide

Terms Used

 

3rd Party Testing

This is testing by a separate and independent lab with no financial interest in the results. This ensures that you get accurate and reliable information about your CBD product regarding purity, potency (dose or concentration) and whether or not the product is free of pesticides, heavy metals and microbial contamination. 3rd party testing can also give you an understanding of the amounts of total cannabinoids present as well as terpenes and other constituents.

Cannabinoids

The cannabinoids are a class of plant substances with similar chemical structures. Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids. 3rd party testing can let you know not only how much CBD you are getting in the product, it can also let you know how much THC is in the product—and this can be important if your employment depends on drug testing—in this case, you will want to ensure that there is no THC in your product. Also—research in the potential benefits of cannabinoids is in its infancy—some cannabinoids (eg. CBG) may prove to be very useful in the future, and it is worthwhile knowing how much of these other potentially beneficial cannabinoids are included in the product you are interested in.

Terpenes

Terpenes are another class of plant substances that are found in high levels in hemp, other strains of cannabis, evergreen trees and many other plants. Terpenes are believed to protect plants from pests. They may also help keep animals away that might be interested in eating them! Terpenes consist of only carbon and hydrogen atoms while terpenoids (also known as isoprenoids) also contain oxygen and other chemical groups. Terpenes and terpenoids are the substances that give cannabis plants their unique smell. More importantly, research is showing us that the terpenes and terpenoids can have benefits all on their own, separate from the effects of CBD. Myrcene, for example, is associated with the reduction of stress and anxiety and linalool—which can give hemp and other cannabis products a flowery aroma (similar to lavender…because lavender flowers contain linalool!) and may be anti-microbial and act as an antidepressant.

Pesticides and Herbicides

You want to get a “clean” product without any chemical residue. Since CBD is derived from the hemp plant, this means, at a minimum, the plant should be free of any chemicals used during the plant’s growth and harvest period. This doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the plant has been organically grown, but 3rd party testing indicated that no pesticides or herbicides are present does tell you that the plants were properly processed.

Limits of Detection (LOD) or Limits of Quantification (LOQ)

  • The LOD is the lowest amount (eg. mg) of a specific substance (called an analyte) that can be determined. This is based to some degree on the type of test used to detect that analyte.
  • The LOQ is a bit different than the LOD—the LOQ is the lowest concentration (eg. mg/mL) of a specific substance that can be determined. The LOD can sometimes be a plus or a minus—the substance is there but the actual amount or concentration is not determined. A bit confusingly, some labs use LOD and LOQ as the equivalent terms. Essentially, they both indicate how sensitive the testing method used is and for our purposes, it is an indication of how well a lab can detect a specific substance.
  • LODs and LOQs are often used synonymously—they aren’t exactly the same thing, but for most purposes, they mean the same thing, indicating how sensitive the testing is. Whether the analysis uses LOD or LOQ, it should be as low as possible.

If for example, the LOQ is 3 mg of THC/30 mL (and not detecting anything below 1% THC) and the amount of THC in a 30 mL bottle is 2.97 mg/30 mL, the testing will indicate that the amount of THC is <LOQ. That means there is some THC in the 30 mL bottle. If you get drug tested, you may show up positive, even though you thought there was negligible THC in the product. On the other hand, if the LOQ is 0.03mg of THC/30mL (0.1% THC) and the results are negative (meaning any THC in the bottle is less than 0.03mg and less than 0.1%), then you can be certain that the amounts of THC in the bottle is well below the standard of 0.3% THC.

To look at another example, if you have found that your best dose of CBD for, say, getting and staying asleep is 17 mg in 1 mL of CBD oil and for one reason or another you have to switch from your usual brand to another or just buying a new batch, you want to be certain that you are getting the full 17 mg of CBD to help you sleep. To double check, look at the COA for the batch of CBD you are buying. You would still have to check (usually) the last column or one of the boxes in a COA to determine if your batch has as much CBD as you need.

Heavy metals

Heavy metals testing usually includes lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic but can also include chromium, iron, aluminum, copper, cobalt and others. Lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic are known toxins—this is why every CBD product should be tested for these.

Residual solvents

A solvent is any substance that is used to dissolve other substances like plant material. There are several steps in the journey from plant to product. The plant must be harvested, dried and the CBD extracted using some form of solvent. There are two main processes for extraction: an ethanol extraction and a CO2 extraction. Some companies use a combination of these two. Other companies, however, may use harsher and more dangerous solvents to extract CBD from the hemp plants. You need to know that there are no solvents remaining, especially if a company uses a solvent such as hexane or benzene!

Microbials

Microbials can include bacteria, viruses and fungi, though for the most part, labs are testing form bacteria and fungi. These can include bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, bacteria found in feces (coliforms), some forms of gram-negative bacteria (eg Pseudomonas and others), anaerobic (can live without oxygen) and aerobic (oxygen-requiring) bacteria. Most labs will also test for aspergillus (a form of fungus) and yeast. This testing is done to confirm that there is no microbial contamination of the product—there are no live bacteria or fungi.

Mycotoxins

Mycotoxins are produced by fungi and molds and can include aflatoxin, ochratoxin A and ergot alkaloids. You need to be confident that any product you buy does not contain these toxins.

In an ideal world, all these should be tested—at the very least, you should be assured that a product you are paying for has the amount of CBD it claims to have. You should also be assured that there are no pesticides, herbicides, or heavy metals and that there is no microbial contamination or toxins.

That’s why you need to understand the terms used in a COA– so you can better decide on which product to buy, based on a series of parameters:

  • Are they providing the amount of CBD they claim they are
  • If you are also concerned about overall health, do they also test for toxins/microbes? Do they test for heavy metals?Residual solvents?
  • Terpenes are less well known than cannabinoids, but terpenes– substances that are found in a broad variety of plants– can be beneficial to health as well. You may want to know which terpenes– and in what amounts are present in your CBD.

As a general rule of thumb, companies that are willing to have their products tested– and let you see or access the results of that testing– are more committed to transparency and to serving the customer (you!) and providing a product that provides value and safety. Currently, the CBD industry is not regulated. This lack of regulation means that you, the customer, have to be more proactive in determining the purity and quality of the CBD products that you buy. Its not always easy, but that is the reason we have produced these articles– to guide you on the path to greater and better health with your choice of CBD product(s)!

 

Below you can find the video transcript:

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Hi, this is Kristin Harrison. I’m here with leafreport.com, and we are in Las Vegas, Nevada at Canalysis Laboratories. I’m here with Skip the founder. Hi Skip.

Skipper Kelp:

Hello. Good to have you guys here at Canalysis Laboratories. My name is Skipper Kelp. I’m the president and COO of Canalysis Laboratories. Nevada was the first state that mandated independent third party testing for the cannabis industry, and we are one of the labs that got licensed. We are ISO 17025 accredited and we are the biggest lab in the state of Nevada. What we do essentially, we are the FDA for the cannabis industry. Whatever you put and consume has to be tested and certified. We do that for the marijuana, hemp and CBD industry.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Wow, that’s really cool. That’s really interesting. So do you do that for companies all around the country?

Skipper Kelp:

So we test in the marijuana. I’ll say marijuana separated from hemp and CBD. The marijuana is still federally illegal, so we can only test marijuana within the state of Nevada because still nationally it’s not legalized yet. However, hemp and CBD products can be shipped all over the world to us and we can test and validate hemp and CBD products. But anything that has over 0.3% THC has to be tested, and stay within the state of Nevada.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Okay. Wow, that’s really interesting. So how long has this lab been here?

Skipper Kelp:

So we started the process in 2014 is when Nevada opened the licensing process for the whole marijuana industry, and everyone rushed to get a dispensary license, a cultivation license, production license. But Nevada was the first state that mandated independent third party testing. So we needed labs, and when the process came out only a few people applied for lab licenses. No one really knew what it was is, it’s so new. Lab testing in the cannabis industry is pioneering, and Nevada is the first state that really is digging into to make it something that is a mandatory thing. So when my partner and I, we saw the opening to get in this industry through independent third party testing, we jumped on that right away. We went through the process. We didn’t know anything about lab testing, but we gathered information.

Skipper Kelp:

We got with people, we got with experts and through trials and tribulations, making every wrong move you could imagine, we figured it out. We got with the smart people to give us information and we just picked it apart, till we essentially became experts. We have a team now that is just as good as it gets. We piece that together by closing our eyes, having a vision and everything falling in place for us. The education that we’ve gained and the amazing people we’ve come in contact with has allowed us to open up Canalysis Laboratories, the biggest testing laboratory in the state of Nevada.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

That’s so cool. I bet it was a really grueling process, but it seems like you guys have come so far and are really a pioneer at this.

Skipper Kelp:

It was absolutely grueling, but it was so challenging. It was something that was so foreign to us that I don’t think we knew better. We got hit in the head, we’d get up and ignorance is bliss. Now we got to the point where we can actually see our vision come into fruition, and it’s rewarding and we still have a long way to go. The industry is still new. We’re pioneering, we’re doing a lot of R and D. We’re meeting up with so many people in the industry, and I think we always talk about transparency being what takes this industry to the next level. The best way to have transparency is through independent lab testing, where what you have, you run through the machines, you run through the methods and the result is what the result is for the world to see for better or for worse.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

That’s so important, and it’s so great that you guys are doing that. It’s really great.

Skipper Kelp:

It’s pretty cool. I’m very proud.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

So can you tell me a little bit, maybe just an overview of the kind of tests you perform here?

Skipper Kelp:

So the Nevada state, Nevada put together one of the highest standards of testing for cannabis. They test for THC levels, the cannabinoid profiles. In CBD and hemp, that’s the CBD test. The THC levels. We test for pesticides, we test for terpenes. That’s what gives the cannabis flavor. We test for residual solvents. We test for pesticides, we test for heavy metals and we test for microbials. Yeast, mold, mildew, chloroform, aspergillus. So in order for your product to get on the shelves to get in the dispensary, you have to go through that full panel of testing. So in the state of Nevada, you can rest assured that once it gets to the dispensary, it’s gone. It’s been probed, and your product is good and safe.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

That’s really cool. That’s really great. So I know you just mentioned about all the tests that you perform here. So can you tell me why that’s important and perhaps if something tested in a way that isn’t good, what the outcome could be for a consumer?

Skipper Kelp:

If you think about it, anything that we consume as individuals, food, whatever it is, has to be tested and certified by the FDA. There is no way Albertsons is going to put meat on the product that hasn’t been ran through the FDA, because people consume that. When you consume something, especially the cannabis industry where a lot of it is for medicinal reasons. So a lot of people that take cannabis take it for medicinal reasons and have compromised immune systems. So if a product, some marijuana came on the shelf and it had yeast, mold, mildew, Aspergillus, someone that has a compromised immune system essentially it could kill him. So you want to know exactly what is in that product before you ingest it. Also too, when you buy a product, let’s say a CBD product that’s on the market right now. CBD products have posted onto the scene last couple of years, and you get all these products that come out and say, “Hey, we have 100 milligrams of CBD.”

Skipper Kelp:

The higher those milligrams of CBD goes, the more you pay for it. It’s a premium, and there are so many products out there that don’t go through testing and they make these claims. As a product and end user, I see it and I read it and I assume that that’s what it’s in there. So I leave the store, I pay a premium for that product because it has X amount of CBD in it and it has nothing in it. So one I’ve been frauded and two, the claims if it doesn’t have the medicinal CBD, now I’m not getting anything. The only way to truly understand that and truly know what’s in the product is through independent third party lab testing.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

I think that’s so important for consumers to know that just because it says something on the label, doesn’t mean that’s what’s in it. So it’s awesome that you guys are here to actually do these tests, and to help educate the everyday consumer like myself that would have otherwise not known this.

Skipper Kelp:

Absolutely, and a product can go and also too, every lab isn’t created equally. You can have a product that says lab tested, but is it really lab testing? You can put anything on a label. To really trust the lab that is on the label, you want an independent third party testing lab that’s been ISO 17025 accredited. That’s gone through the probing of any regulatory body. So we’ve gone through the validation process. So when a product comes through here, our methods have been validated. We’ve gotten the rubber stamp by the state of Nevada. We’ve gotten the rubber stamp by Perry Johnson accreditation. So every lab isn’t considered equal. Make sure product is being tested by lab is from an accredited laboratory.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Wow, that’s great to know. I’m happy to know that, because I didn’t know that before and I’m sure everyone watching will be-

Skipper Kelp:

What’s crazy is the industry is so new that people don’t know. I jumped in and said let’s figure this thing out, but as you get more educated about it and people will get more educated about it because it’s blowing up. To get to that next level where we become federally accepted worldwide, it has to be through independent third party testing. We need transparency. Everyone needs to know exactly what they’re buying and what they’re ingesting, and the only way to truly do that is through lab testing.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Wow, that’s amazing. Really good to know. So can you tell me a little bit about equipment and protocols you might use? Maybe just a general overview. I know we’re going to go take a tour later, which I’m excited about, but-

Skipper Kelp:

So I will have brains, my lab director, Trevor Low, run us through the process, but I can go through the instrumentation with you and explain what test they do. We have the GC triple quad and GC stands or gas chromatography.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

I don’t even know if I could say that. Chromatography, okay.

Skipper Kelp:

Chromatography, and that instrument test, triple quad test for terpenes and pesticide. It’s that machine right there and behind it we… Trevor will walk everyone through this. Then we have the GCMS, and that’s the Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry. That is for terpenes and pesticides. Then we have an LCMS, that is the Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry. We’ll call it mass spec moving forward.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Mass spec. I can say that.

Skipper Kelp:

Mass spec, and that’s for pesticides. Then just right behind us here is the HPLC. It’s the High Performance Liquid Chromatography. So that machine there, this right here, this is like for the hemp and CBD world. This is the everything. This is the canna test, the cannabinoid profile. So when the hemp industry does their testing, it has to be under 0.3% THC in order to be legalized. So this tells you how much THC is in a product. It tells you how much CBD, THCA. This is the total cannabinoid profile. So we have two of these machines, because they get inundated with tests. Whenever we get stuff coming in out of state, these are machines that it runs through. Over there, Trevor will take you there. It’s the ICPMS and that is the Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry. That tests for heavy metals, it tests for a cadmium, lead, arsenic and mercury.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Wow. So you have to put these samples through a variety of different tasks and machines.

Skipper Kelp:

Through a variety, and that [inaudible 00:10:07] go to that room right there that has restriction area on the wall. That’s the microbiology room, and we test E.coli equally and a bunch of dangerous microbials. Our microbiologists can explain that. We have PCR and we have all, we have the latest and the greatest toys here with Agilent instrumentation. We’ve teamed up with Agilent as far as branding them with us, and their instrumentation is amazing. It’s the top of the line.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Wow and I have standing next to me, Trevor, who is the lab director here. Hi Trevor.

Trevor Low:

Hi Kristen.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

How are you?

Trevor Low:

I’m great, thanks.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Awesome. Thanks for taking the time to meet with us today. So we just want to ask you about the process here, about how when you get a sample in, how it would go through the testing. So I guess we’d be at the first step here if you just want to tell me a little bit about that.

Trevor Low:

Yeah, sure. So when the sample comes into the lab, either we pick it up by regulation for marijuana in the state of Nevada. The lab has to go pick up the sample. Otherwise, we do get CBD and hemp samples from all over the country. Some of those are brought in by the client or the Maldon. So the first thing that happens is we receive the samples, we log them into the system, into our LIMS system. Then they are assigned a unique tracking number in the lab. So we can track the sample throughout the lab, and all the results get reported correctly.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Okay. Wow, that’s really cool. So how long does it take to, once you get a sample in and it goes through the whole process? I mean, is there a rough time estimate or does it vary?

Trevor Low:

From the time that we receive the sample to the time that the report is issued, it depends on what they, what tests they require. For full panel, it’s usually three to five days turnaround time. If it’s just one thing they’re looking for, could be the next day or 48 hours we could get results. Yeah.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

All right, great. Well I’m really excited for you to show us how this whole thing works. So thank you, and let’s continue.

Trevor Low:

Okay, great. Great.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Trevor, we’re here in the next step of the process where the samples are basically, you get the samples ready for testing. So can you tell me a little bit about that?

Trevor Low:

That’s correct. So this is the first room where we do sample processing before we do the analysis. So if the sample is in for full, say full panel testing that requires microbial testing, our micro team takes their sample first so that it can’t get contaminated by anybody else. Then usually for most samples, the samples are broken down either ground up or otherwise the particle size is reduced to make it easy to sample. Then the analysts weigh out, you can see behind me there’s two analysts here weighing out samples to do the analysis. Each sample, usually we request enough sample to do the number of tests that they require. So say for marijuana flower or hemp flower full panel testing, we require 10 grams of sample. That 10 grams is ground up and portioned out into each separate analysis.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Okay. All right. So is that what all this stuff is right here?

Trevor Low:

Yes. This area is where we’re staging all of the sample that’s ready to be weighed out for analysis. So we have prime material that’s ground up here. We have tinctures that some samples don’t require any particle size reduction, so tinctures and concentrates. There’s no grinding or anything. We just analyze it as is.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Okay, great. Thank you. All right, Trevor. Well first of all, I want to say thank you for this awesome lab coat. I feel official now, but why don’t you tell me about this step of the process, this room that we’re in now?

Trevor Low:

Okay, so some analysis require an extraction before they go onto the instrument for analysis. So this is our extraction room where the sample after it’s been weighed out, we add either a solvent or a solvent for the GCs analysis or acid. We do an acid digestion for metals. It’s all done in this room and then after it’s been extracted, then it goes to the instrumentation. You’re wearing a lab coat because there’s a lot of chemicals in here, so we just want to keep you safe.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Okay. Good to know. So everything you just said, can you explain that to me in a way that maybe I would understand?

Trevor Low:

Okay. So yeah, certain elements that we’re looking for, whether it’s pesticides or cannabinoids, they require the addition of a solvent to extract them from the matrix, either from the flower or from the gummy, or the whatever it is that we’re testing. Then once it’s pulled out with the solvent or the acid, then it can go onto the instrument and then we can read it on the instrument.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Okay. That makes sense. Awesome. Thank you. All right, Trevor. So why don’t you tell me a little bit about this machine that’s behind me.

Trevor Low:

Okay, so this is our GC triple quad. That stands for a Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer, triple quad mass spectrometer. This instrument is used to analyze pesticides.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Okay. So it’ll tell me if there’s pesticides in the product.

Trevor Low:

Yes. By and large in the state of Nevada, they’re mostly indoor grows and we don’t find a whole lot of pesticide contamination. Where we do see some pesticide contamination is usually an outdoor, like hemp grows. We do get hemp from all over the country, and we do see some pesticides on those. So chromatography itself has to do with the separation of analytes onto a column. So based on the different retention times, so we can identify different pesticides. Pesticides are, it’s an important for public health to know that the product you’re consuming is free from pesticides.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Yeah. I don’t want to eat any pesticides. Who does?

Trevor Low:

Correct.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

All right, Trevor, tell me about this machine.

Trevor Low:

Okay. So this is our LC Triple Quad, that stands for Liquid Chromatography Triple Quad Mass Spectrometry, and this one also analyzes for pesticides. So the reason we have two different instruments is that some pesticides work better on this instrument, some work better on the GC Triple Quad. That’s why we have both.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

So do you have to run the samples through both machines?

Trevor Low:

Yes, we do. Yeah.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Wow. All the samples?

Trevor Low:

Yeah. So whatever, for a full panel of pesticides and mycotoxins, they have to go through both. Yeah, so there’s the same extraction, but one goes through the LC triple and a portion of the sample goes through the GC triple.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

That’s really good to see though that you’re doing essentially two tests to see if there’s any pesticides. That’s great for consumers to know.

Trevor Low:

Yes, we use the instrument that is optimized for those particular pesticides.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Great. Thank you. All right, Trevor, I can’t wait to hear the name of this machine.

Trevor Low:

Okay. This is called an HSGC FID MSD, and stands for a Headspace Gas Chromatograph with Flame Ionization Detector with Mass Spectrometer Detector.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Wow.

Trevor Low:

See, I know it’s a mouthful. This particular instrument, this is one of those analysis that don’t require a solvent extraction. So the sample is weighed directly into these Headspace vials. So this right here is the Headspace sampler and it’s basically sampling the airspace above the sample, and then that goes into the gas chromatograph that detects the… This is for terpene analysis. It’s for terpenes and residual solvents.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

What’s a residual solvent?

Trevor Low:

Residual solvents are some concentrates and extracts made from hemp or marijuana, or any kind of cannabis. They’re extracted, sometimes they’re extracted using solvents. There’s four approved solvents in the state of Nevada. It could be butane, it could be heptane. A lot of them are using, are going toward non-solvent extraction using super critical CO2. But a lot of extractions are still done with solvents. So we want to make sure there’s no residual solvents left after the extraction, because those could be harmful to your health also.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

That would be good to know.

Trevor Low:

Yes.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Then the terpenes, these are determining the levels of different terpenes that are in a certain project, or how does that work?

Trevor Low:

That’s correct. So this will give us the terpene profile. Usually when you go into a dispensary, they’ll list the top three terpenes. But we actually test for, I believe it’s 22 different terpenes on this one. They’re all in different concentrations depending on the strain, depending on how it was extracted and et cetera. Yeah.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Wow. Great. Thank you. All right, Trevor. So I’m assuming this machine is called Eve.

Trevor Low:

Yeah, that’s what we named the machine. We have two. This one’s Eve, and that one’s Wally.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

I love it. All right, so what’s the real name?

Trevor Low:

This is called an HPLC. It stands for High-Performance Liquid Chromatography. These are the instruments that we do cannabinoid analysis or potency analysis. So if you want to know your THC content, your CBD content, this is the instrument that we would use. Almost every sample that comes into the lab requires it, so we have two of these instruments.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Okay. So this is something I’d see on the label of a product, right? These different percentages.

Trevor Low:

That’s correct. Cannabinoids are the substances in cannabis that the THC causes the psychoactive effect. CBD is the non-psychoactive component of your cannabinoids, but it’s responsible for a lot of like health benefits. So people are very interested in knowing not only the THC content and the CBD content, but also minor cannabinoids like CBG and CBC, CBN. There’s a lot of products where like gummies or tinctures that are designed to have a specific ratio of CBD to THC. We do a lot of testing to verify that the ratio is correct, and that the gummy or the tincture or the brownie is dosed correctly. So if it says you’re getting 10 milligrams per serving, you’re actually getting 10 milligrams per serving.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Well that’s great to know that there’s a test for that. So you’re making sure that what the label says is true basically.

Trevor Low:

That’s correct.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Okay, and how many different cannabinoids are there that you can test for?

Trevor Low:

I believe we test for, I want to say 11 right now. Yeah, the state of Nevada only requires four, but we test for a bunch of the miners also.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Okay. All right. That’s great, because people when they’re purchasing a product, like you said, they might be looking for more of a certain cannabinoid for a certain reason. So this will make sure that those labels are right.

Trevor Low:

That’s correct. That’s correct, and some people have, a lot of… Everyone has a different tolerance toward THC. So what concentration works for one person might not work for another person, so you just have to try it out yourself and know where your tolerance is. Then you would purchase based on the tested potency of that product.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

That’s great that you said that, the tested potency, to make sure that they actually have a third party lab test done so that what they’re saying is true.

Trevor Low:

Yes. Every product that you would find buying in a dispensary, a licensed dispensary here in Nevada has been tested and it will have the tested potency on there.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

All right, great. Thank you. All right, Trevor, I’m excited to hear what this machine is called.

Trevor Low:

Okay. This is called our ICPMS. It stands for Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer, and this is the instrument that we measure heavy metals on. So currently in the state of Nevada, they require analysis for four different heavy metals. Arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

It’s crazy to think that these substances would be in CBD.

Trevor Low:

Again, very rare that we would see heavy metal contamination. I’ve seen it mostly in some flower, but we’ve so far not detected any hazardous levels in CBD products so far.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Okay. Okay, great. All right, so now we are in the microbiology room. I’m here with Nikhil, the senior microbiologist here at Canalysis laboratories. How are you?

Nikhil:

I’m good. How are you?

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

I’m good, thank you. So why don’t you tell me a little bit about this machine right here?

Nikhil:

So this is a QPCR machine. It looks at genetic information in certain pathogens like salmonella and E. coli, and certain molds that could be harmful to humans. So we perform a genetic test on every sample that comes in, and then analyze it in real time on this machine. The results are viewable, downloadable, and very easy to interpret. So you know if there’s that pathogen in your sample or not.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Wow, that’s really interesting. So you can test all these samples for these harmful things that we wouldn’t want to ingest anyways. Right? Okay, and how quickly do you get these results on this machine?

Nikhil:

It takes about two hours to perform the entire test. We do an enrichment where if there is an organism that’s damaged in the process that the cultivators use to sterilize or decontaminate, we rescue those organisms. Other than that, the analysis takes about two hours.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Okay, and if one of those pathogens is found, then what happens?

Nikhil:

Then we report that to the state and to the cultivator or producer of that product, and that is used for their future process, but that entire lot would fail.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

So then is it destroyed?

Nikhil:

It should be destroyed. Depending on the type of matrix, it could be converted into another concentrate or extract. They’d have to get permission from the state to do that.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Okay. All right, good to know. Then can you tell me why, I know we’re in a separate room here at the lab just for these kinds of things. What’s the reason behind that?

Nikhil:

We have to keep this section separate completely. It’s a state regulation from the rest of the building. So it has to have a closed door and a controlled environment, because what we work on in here is sometimes can be dangerous. We don’t want that to go to other parts of the lab.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

All right, so Nikhil is going to show us a test. What are you going to show us here? I’m so excited.

Nikhil:

This is just basically how we gently shake off the organisms into a buffer. So when we get the sample, we put it in this liquid. This media that would grow salmonella and pathogenic E. coli if it was in the sample. To shake it off, you could use your hands, but that would be a little tedious. So you would use this machine. It generally shakes it up for you. So it takes about a minute and then that’s when you incubate it, and then you test it out on that machine over there.

Leafreport – Kristin Harrison:

Wow. That’s so cool. Thank you for showing us that.

Nikhil:

Thank you.

 

ENJOY READING? SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Dr. Zora DeGrandpre practices naturopathic medicine (home visits) in rural Washington and is a professional medical and scientific writer and editor, specializing in naturopathic, functional, botanical and integrative medicine. Dr. DeGrandpre has degrees in drug design, immunology and natural medicine and has extensive research experience in cancer and molecular immunology. Dr DeGrandpre has found the use of CBD with elderly patients and others to be safe and clinically effective.

Read More

Leafreport picks for best cbd oil
FOLLOW US
Important Disclaimer
All contents of the LeafReport Site, such as text, graphics, images, and other material contained on the LeafReport Site are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the LeafReport Site!