CBD is fast becoming mainstream. In just a matter of a few years, most states have legalized its use. In fact, even the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from their banned substance list in 2018.
Despite its popularity, it is important to remember that the CBD industry is still relatively new, so results from scientific studies are still limited. Moreover, the policies that regulate its use, distribution, and manufacturing are not yet fully established.
Fortunately, there are ways to help ensure that the CBD products you purchase are safe and don’t contain unwanted ingredients. Two of the methods you can use are to read the product’s COA and to ensure the products are GMP certified.
What are these terms, and why are they essential when buying CBD products? Read on to find out!
What is GMP?
GMP is short for Good Manufacturing Practices, and refers to the regulations implemented by the US Food and Drug Administration. These regulations are designed to ensure that manufacturers adhere to consistently high manufacturing standards. Quality production methods help maintain the safety and efficacy of products and offer protection to consumers.
This set of regulations are enforced in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, certain foods and supplements, cosmetics, medical devices, vaccines, blood products, tobacco, cosmetics, and animal and veterinary products.
Why does GMP for CBD Matter?
Without GMP standards, unscrupulous manufacturers could cut corners to help them save resources at the customer's expense. The safety of consumers may be compromised as they would be at risk of purchasing mislabeled or contaminated products.
Since CBD legalization has only recently occurred in most areas, the FDA has not yet established a comprehensive plan concerning product quality standards and recommended or maximum dosages.
However, the FDA is currently establishing GMP standards for CBD, so consumers can be assured that CBD products purchased from GMP-certified manufacturers are likely to be safe.
The existing GMP guidelines for CBD examine each manufacturing stage of the product, from the location and growing process of the hemp plant to its extraction, refinement, and isolation, to the final packaging stages.
Current GMP regulations also require that CBD is manufactured in a well-designed facility using suitable, regularly maintained equipment. The regulations also require the implementation of hygiene practices to prevent plant contamination and state that all employees must be properly trained and certified. The regulations also require that all manufacturing processes and investigations must be documented appropriately.
What is a COA?
COA stands for Certificate of Analysis. A COA is a document provided by an accredited laboratory that provides detailed product ingredient information. A COA for CBD shows the types and quantities of cannabinoids in the product, and also reports possible contaminants.
The certificate and the analysis must be provided and performed by a third-party laboratory. This means that the laboratory is appointed or accredited by an appropriate governing body and must have no direct or indirect affiliations with CBD manufacturers. Third-party testing helps assure that the COA is not tampered with or fabricated, and that the lab doesn’t have any conflict of interest in providing an honest assessment of the product.
Why COA for CBD Matters?
While the accessibility of CBD is generally a good thing, it can be difficult to determine which products are of high quality and which ones are not.
Some mislabeled or poor-quality products do not contain the amount of CBD listed on the label, while others contain trace amounts of FHC or other cannabinoids that you may wish to avoid. There is another potential problem worse than the presence of THC or cannabinoids or a low level of CBD—contamination. Sadly, there are also CBD products on the market that contain harsh chemicals, such as:
- Pesticides (myclobutanil or bifenazate)
- Heavy metals (mercury or lead)
- Chemical solvents (propane or butane)
How to Read a COA
At first glance, the contents of the Certificate of Analysis can be a bit intimidating, and some of the scientific terms can be confusing at first. Here are some steps to follow to accurately read the COA.
Step 1. Find out who did the testing.
The first thing to do is to find out which company performed the test. The certificate must not be provided by a laboratory that has any ties to the manufacturer. You should also perform a Google search to confirm that the laboratory is accredited by the FDA.
Step 2. Check the cannabinoid profile.
Aside from CBD, some products still contain other cannabinoids found in the hemp plant, so you may want to check on them as well.
The cannabinoid profile report provides the following information:
- The spectrum of the product—whether the product contains other cannabinoids and THC.
- The potency of the product—by determining the amount of each cannabinoid present in the product; the concentration of each cannabinoid is often presented as either mg/ml or as a percentage.
- The presence of non-decarboxylated raw materials—if the product still contains acid forms (acid precursor of cannabinoids).
All cannabinoids are still present in full-spectrum products; just make sure that the THC content does not exceed 0.3%. The THC level of broad-spectrum products must be 0%. If you want to use a CBD isolate, the levels of THC and other cannabinoids must be between 0 and 1%.
Step 3. Check the terpene profile.
Terpenes are aromatic oils found in the hemp plant. Terpenes may work synergistically with CBD to produce the entourage effect. The effect refers to the mechanism by which multiple cannabis compounds are believed to act synergistically.
If you are interested in a CBD isolate, there must be no values listed in the COA's terpene profile section. If you are purchasing either a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD product, you can expect to see values in the terpenes section.
Step 4. Check the heavy metal screening.
In this section, you will determine whether the CBD product is free from heavy metal contamination. Some of the heavy metals commonly assessed within the COA are mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and lead.
You should not expect the levels of heavy metals to be completely zero since there are allowable limits for these substances. The aim of COA is to ensure that the levels of heavy metals in the product do not exceed the allowable limits.
Step 5. Check out the bacteria content of the product.
This type of information can be found in the COA's microbiology screening section. This analysis is performed to ensure that the product does not contain any level of E. coli, salmonella, yeast, or mold.
Step 6. Check the pesticide content of the product.
The COA will let you know if the product is free from pesticides. Again, there are allowable pesticide limits, so just make sure that the pesticide levels indicated are less than the allowable limits.
Step 7. Check out the solvent residue content of the product.
Some CBD products are extracted from the hemp plant using chemical solvents. With this information, you will be able to determine if solvent residues have been left behind after extraction.
Once again, make sure that the levels are within the allowable limits.
When compared to products that have been on the market longer, CBD products are not yet as well regulated, so you should be vigilant in choosing CBD products.
It is recommended that you do your research about CBD products and make sure that the manufacturer of the brand you want to purchase adheres to GMP regulations. Moreover, you should check the product's Certificate of Analysis to help ensure that the product contains the right amount of CBD, the correct kind of cannabinoids, and no harsh chemicals.
Be sure to check out these documents and consult with a doctor before you get started on your CBD regimen. Always be certain that the CBD products you purchase are from a trusted source. At buyCBDproducts.com, every product we offer is GMO-free, organic, and tested in a third-party laboratory.