How to Read The CBD Lab Results
Lab reports can be confusing. Often referred to as Certificates of Analysis, these reports contain information about the potency of the product. They may also include results for various contamination testing that is performed.
With numbers, percentages, and graphs, the amount of information the labs are trying to convey can feel overwhelming. Lab report formats vary; however, they should contain some basic components, and you should know how to read them.
Apples-to-Apples: As simple as it seems, the most important thing to look for is the product information. All lab reports should clearly state the name of the product that is tested.
Make sure the name of the product tested is the exact same as the label item you are buying. Also, make sure the batch number of the product you are buying matches the batch number tested.
Some products do not use batch numbers, and that makes verifying test results more challenging. Many lab reports also have a product description, and date received and tested that also aid in the validation of lab reports.
Next, we look at what’s in the reports. The most common test is potency. The potency is simply the amount of active ingredient (cannabinoids) that are in the sample. This is often referred to as a cannabinoid panel since labs will test for multiple cannabinoids simultaneously.
How CBD is Tested
Most labs screen between 3-11 different cannabinoids. CBD and THC are the major cannabinoids of interest because they occur at the highest levels.
For tinctures and other liquid products, the results are listed as mass, typically milligrams, of the cannabinoid per volume, typically milliliters.
However, products are usually labeled with the milligrams of cannabinoids in the entire bottle. For example, a 1 fluid ounce (30 ml) bottle of CBD oil may be labeled as 300 mg. This would represent a concentration of 10 mg CBD per 1 ml of sample.
A 30ml bottle / 300mg = 10mg per serving. Other dosage forms may report mass percent. This is simply the mass (typically grams) of the cannabinoid divided by the total mass of product (typically grams) and reported as a percentage.
Therefore, an 18% CBD flower, would contain 180 milligrams of CBD for every gram of flower. In order to be considered hemp, THC concentration cannot be more than 0.3%.
Thus, we need the mass percent to be less than 0.3% which is 0.3 milligram per gram of flower (or – 0.34 milligram per milliliter of oil).
Remember, full spectrum products should contain multiple cannabinoids. The entourage effect relies on a mixture of cannabinoids to enhance the efficacy of the cannabinoids.
Therefore, if your product is labeled as full spectrum, but the lab report only shows CBD, the product is either made from an isolate (a single cannabinoid) or the lab did not test for the minor cannabinoids.
Another popular test shows the terpene profiles. Terpenes are known for their unique and strong odor. While the profiles were originally thought to be for user preference (like the bouquet of wines), there is ongoing research about potential health benefits. Therefore, many lab reports lists which terpenes are present.
There are more than 100 terpenes in just one Flower (plant). Here are some of the most well known terpenes in use now. Most of which you’ll find in legal cannabis products.
|Terpene Name||Aroma||Properties||Common Uses|
|pain, skin lesion|
|eyesight, pain relief|
|Camphene||fir needles |
|anti-oxidant||skin lesion |
|insomnia, muscle spasms |
|Delta 3 Carene||pine |
|anti-inflammatory||bone stimulant |
|pain, pain relief|
|appetite suppression |
|Limonene||bitter citrus||anti-anxiety |
|digestion, gallstones |
weight loss, sleep aid
|depression, convulsions |
insomnia, pain relief
|relaxing, sedating||inflammation, insomnia |
|asthma, bronchitis |
memory, mental alertness
|reduce itching |
|pain, heart disease |
|Valencene||sweet citrus||anti-inflammatory |
Independent Third Party Testing
It’s critical to have a neutral, independent laboratory testing the plant content and quality of a growers hemp product. From a consumer perspective, this is incredibly important.
Today’s market is a non-regulated state of commerce, and due to the lack of oversight by the FDA, it has essentially allowed manufacturers and distributors to glue medical-looking labels onto cute bottles and then turn around and sell them as a cure-all.
Hold on Charlie – You Best Not Be Buyin That Junk!
You should buy online from any reputable source that tests their plant crop before processing and then tests again after the final product is ready to go market.
Over time oil goes rancid and potency diminishes. Hemp oil should be tested periodically, initially for impurities but to confirm efficacy as well. Testing safeguards you and establishes the amount of CBD advertised on the label, it tells you what’s in the product, and that it has not exceeded the legal level of THC (0.3%).
Proper testing and reporting show the company’s transparency in its practice.