If you have been shopping online for CBD products lately, you will have most likely come across the term “third-party lab reports.” These days it’s becoming the standard to only buy your CBD from reputable companies which provide customers with their third-party lab results. Currently, the CBD market is kind of like the wild west. The 2018 Farm Bill has made hemp-derived CBD legal on a federal level, but the FDA still needs to create regulations for the industry. This means that there’s a lot of farce products on the market, and thus it’s recommended that customers only purchase from companies who report on lab testing.
In reality, a CBD product is only as good as its latest lab result. In fact, third-party lab reports are important when it comes to the verification of components in just about any product. This is especially important for food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics that could potentially harm consumers.
Your biggest concern when buying a CBD product should be verifying what’s in the bottle. After all, the last thing you want is some cheap product that has been produced with toxic ingredients and filled up with synthetics. Unfortunately, in today’s times, there are CBD products on the market that include everything from prohibited synthetic cannabinoids to illegal doses of THC. Also, possibly not as shocking, there are some sellers who add a lot less CBD in the product than they advertise.
As you begin to explore the world of CBD, you will quickly notice that a lot of brands offer lab-tested products. These lab reports are also often referred to as certificates of analysis (COA), and they are key to knowing what is or isn’t in the key hemp extract that makes a CBD product special. Let’s take a closer look at CBD lab testing.
Why Are CBD Lab Tests Done?
Last year, the FDA approved the first pharmaceutical product that contains CBD, called Epidiolex. However, despite this approval, the rest of the CBD industry is still operating in a very much unregulated space. Currently, there is no quality or content control in place on CBD products that are sold in the general consumer market.
Add to this that CBD has exploded into the mainstream market and the industry is experiencing rapid growth. This has resulted in countless new brands flooding the market over the last few years.
Unfortunately, this opportunity has attracted a number of poor quality players who are just out to make a quick buck. With no industry standards currently in place, the quality of CBD products on the market is very unpredictable. Unlabeled CBD products have become worryingly common, and there have even been reports of harmful synthetic knock-offs. Ultimately, consumers need to be very aware and cautious when shopping for any CBD product, whether it be capsules, edibles, oil tinctures, etc.
This is where lab testing comes in. Fortunately, some industry-leading CBD brands have taken charge by pioneering transparency practices. Top brands are publicly displaying product contents via lab reports, along with full company information, and disclosure of their production practices.
The purpose of lab reports is to empower customers by giving them the opportunity to discover what exactly is in each product that they purchase. As you will probably agree, this is essential in today’s unregulated marketplace. An increasing number of brands include this practice in their business and customers are encouraged to only purchase CBD products from those who provide lab reports for their products.
Lab Tests Aren’t Required, So Why Are They Done?
Since the CBD industry is still a very much regulated market, and there is no law in place stating that companies have to lab test their products, why are so many of them doing so? Analytical laboratory equipment like high-performance liquid chromatography doesn’t come cheap, and neither does the labor and expertise associated with knowing how to use them. Considering this, it may be surprising to find that so many brands are lab testing their products, but why?
It all comes down to transparency. With CBD products becoming increasingly popular each day, it’s become more and more crucial for companies to establish a reputable and reliable name for themselves within the industry. People know what quality CBD products are capable of doing in terms of anxiety and depression, chronic pain relief, and lots more, and they certainly aren’t going to spend their hard-earned money on expensive brands that aren’t even confident enough to have their products lab tested.
Essentially, it’s within a company’s best interests to have their products lab tested, even if it costs them a lot of money. Most customers are able to determine very quickly whether a brand is legit or a scam. When they see that products have been lab tested, they find the brand and its products to be more trustworthy.
Third-Party Lab Tests to Look for Before You Buy CBD
For consumers to verify that a product is free of toxins, pure, and provides the claimed benefits, there are a few analyses that need to be done. The cannabinoids that are generally tested for are; THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, and CBC.
Before you buy a CBD product, here are a few of the analysis tests to look out for:
- CBD/THC ratio: You typically want a CBD product to contain a much higher concentration of CBD. In fact, in most states, it’s required by law that products contain no more than 0.3% THC.
- Pesticide testing: This is important to analyse the safety of the compounds. Plants are sometimes treated with herbicides and fungicides which can cause significant side effects when found in high concentrations.
- Terpene testing: This test identifies those compounds that give the distinctive color and taste to cannabis plants. Terpenes are the pungent oils that give flavors like mint, citrus, berry, or pine, and are also thought to have significant health benefits.
- Microbiological testing: Done to ensure that there’s no harmful bacteria or mold colonies on the hemp or cannabis plants. If pathogens are on the plant, they are easily able to get into the body if levels are too high, and can result in unwanted side effects.
- Residual solvents testing: Solvents are used when plants are processed and turned into powder, oil, or other products, but only as part of the solvent-based extraction process. High concentrations of solvents like acetone, propane, carbon dioxide, and ethanol can cause unpleasant health effects, and could also turn the product into a highly flammable one.
Is There a Reason Not to Trust CBD Lab Tests?
Some people view testing labs as the cannabis industry’s dirty little secret. The reality is, cannabis companies rely on these lab reports to determine the level of CBD or THC in each of their products, and also to give them a pass with regards to pesticides, mold, and other harmful substances. However, there is one small problem: Not all testing labs are created equal.
The promise of lab-tested cannabis has become one of the main selling points for cannabis legalization activists all across the country. But, it’s still unclear whether we can realistically rely on lab tests to tell us the truth about what’s in our cannabis or CBD products. The labs themselves aren’t graded or inspected by any agencies, and therefore there’s no way of knowing if the product was tested at a reputable lab.
The costs of meeting requirements for manufacturers, retailers, and growers, the different testing methods that are being used by labs, and the occurrence of “lab shopping” – whereby brands test products at different labs to ensure they get the most favorable result – are all factors that threaten the credibility of lab-tested CBD.
But, at the end of the day, it would be better to have those lab tests than not. At least the company is going through the effort of proving lab results, and it’s far more likely that the products are legit and of higher quality in comparison to those brands who don’t provide any lab reports.
Customers should also keep in mind that it’s advisable to check what institution has done the lab testing. Some are more well-known and trustworthy than others.
Final Thoughts on CBD Lab Testing
Consumers need to be extra cautious when purchasing CBD products and should not immediately believe claims that are made by CBD brands. Those that have undergone rigorous testing and have been approved by government regulatory institutions are the most credible. As a CBD customer in this unregulated CBD market, you need to keep your wits about you and ensure that you do thorough research before making any purchase.