Cannabis Testing Lab

Are you a Cannabis grower or manufacturer who is struggling with keeping up with the latest news, regulations, and industry trends? As an emerging and evolving industry, it is a challenge to keep up with the latest trends and regulations; let alone keeping up with all of the acronyms popping up daily.  

One such acronym that has a big impact on the industry and is important to understand is the COA (Certificate of Analysis). The importance of accurate testing cannot be overstated and the COA is the guarantee that ensures cannabis products meet the safety and quality standards required in California. In this blog, we will delve into the importance of the COA, decode the components of a COA, the benefits of the COA, and what to do if cannabis goods fail.  

What is a COA and Why is it Important?  

A COA is a document that summarizes the laboratory testing results of cannabis products.  It is used to provide technical information to growers and manufacturers for specific batches of cannabis products and also provides safety and assurance to consumers by verifying that the products conform with all regulatory requirements.

In California, testing must be performed by a California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) licensed laboratory and all resulting COAs must be submitted to DCC.  All batches of cannabis goods must be tested and have a passing COA before they can be sold to consumers.  The COA confirms that the tested products are free of contaminants and labeled with accurate amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes. This is important to keep consumers safe from harmful components and products that do not meet potency thresholds.  As a licensed cannabis testing lab in Orange County, Pure Cannalyst Labs works directly with our clients and the DCC to ensure that all testing procedures meet the requirements established by the DCC and that accurate information is reported on all COAs. 

Below are the key areas that growers and manufacturers should be aware of when it comes to COA’s.  

Top 5 Components of a COA?

1. Lab Information: The COA begins with basic details about the testing laboratory, including its name, address, contact information, and accreditation status. This section establishes the credibility and authority of the testing facility.

2. Sample Information: The COA provides information about the sample being tested. Identifying information such as its name, batch or lot number, and any relevant identifiers provided by the manufacturer are included in this section. This ensures traceability and helps prevent mix-ups or confusion.

3. Test Results: The heart of the COA lies in the test results section. The various parameters of the test are analyzed and reported, including:

  • Potency: This indicates the levels of cannabinoids and terpenes present in the sample, such as THC and CBD. Potency testing ensures compliance with legal limits and provides insight into the product’s expected effects.
  • Residual Solvents: Cannabis extracts often undergo solvent-based extraction processes. Residual solvent testing detects any leftover solvents, ensuring product safety.
  • Pesticides: Pesticide testing identifies the presence of harmful chemicals used in cultivation. Excessive pesticide residues can pose health risks to consumers.
  • Microbials: Microbial testing checks for the presence of bacteria, molds, and other microorganisms. Contamination can lead to product spoilage or, in severe cases, cause illness.
  • Heavy Metals: Heavy metal testing ensures that cannabis products are free from toxic elements such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury.
  • Mycotoxins: Mycotoxin testing detects the presence of toxins produced by molds, which can be harmful if ingested.
  • Moisture Content: Moisture content testing determines the amount of water present in the sample. Proper moisture levels are crucial for product stability and shelf life.
  • Foreign Material: This confirms that the cannabis product is free from any foreign materials that may be harmful to the consumer. 


4. Pass/Fail Criteria: Based on the test results, the COA indicates whether the sample meets the required standards or if it fails to comply. This provides clarity to the manufacturer regarding the quality and safety of their product.

5. Limits of Detection (LOD) and Limits of Quantification (LOQ): These terms are often mentioned in the COA and are important for understanding the sensitivity of the testing methods used. 

  • LOD: The Limit of Detection refers to the lowest possible amount of cannabinoids that can accurately be detected by the measurement instrument. 
  • LOQ: The Limit of Quantification is the smallest quantity of concentration that can be accurately identified. 

Top 5 Benefits of the COA:

1. Compliance with Regulations: By providing a COA, manufacturers demonstrate their commitment to regulatory compliance and consumer safety.

2. Product Quality Assurance: By identifying any deviations or deficiencies, manufacturers can take corrective actions to maintain product quality.

3. Consumer Confidence: By transparently sharing COAs with consumers, manufacturers build confidence and credibility in their brand.

4. Risk Mitigation: By conducting thorough testing and obtaining COAs, manufacturers mitigate these risks and protect their business interests.

5. Continuous Improvement: By analyzing trends and identifying areas for improvement, manufacturers can enhance product quality and efficiency.

What Happens if Cannabis Goods Fail? 

If a cannabis batch fails a test, it is unable to be sold to the consumer. In the event of a failed test, the DCC requires that the batch either be destroyed by the distributor or remediated by the manufacturer (if possible). If the manufacturer chooses to remediate the batch to remove the contaminants from the product, the remediation plan must be approved by DCC in advance.  After remediation, the cannabis must be retested to verify the removal.  If the retest results show the product is free from contaminants and an approved COA is issued; the product can then be sold. 

In the rapidly growing cannabis industry, the Certificate of Analysis plays a crucial role in ensuring product safety, quality, and compliance. By understanding the components and benefits of a COA, manufacturers and growers can navigate regulatory requirements, build consumer trust, and drive business success. As the industry continues to evolve, COAs will remain a cornerstone of responsible cannabis production and distribution.