Avoid Untested CBD Products

Avoid Untested CBD Products, Why COAs are So Important

When it comes to CBD products, the current climate of limited federal regulation is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, it’s great that the government hasn’t come in and imposed a lot of restrictions on what kind of CBD products can and can’t be sold. As long as you’re buying ingestible products with less than .3% THC --then you know you’re enjoying products that make use of the best qualities of cannabidiol, without the psychotropic effects of THC.

In the current climate, you can browse and buy the best CBD products for internal and topical use -- including CBD tinctures, CBD softgels, CBD gummies and more. You can shop for yourself, your family and your dog, with no prescription required. Talk about modern marvels!

But it’s not all good news. As the CBD industry grows and evolves, less scrupulous companies are jumping on the bandwagon, marketing CBD products under dubious or outright false claims.

Meteoric Rise of CBD Industry Causes Confusion, Mislabeling and False Claims

The CBD business is growing exponentially each day, as more and more people find relief from this miracle product. It’s easy to see why everyone’s getting into the CBD business -- everyone wants a piece of the green gold rush.

As the saying goes, though -- haste makes waste. Unsuspecting customers might not know how to recognize the markers of top-quality, safe CBD. Shady businesses may simply copy the claims of their competitors or invent them out of thin air.

That’s where 3rd party testing comes in. In the absence of rigorous government standards and regulations for the CBD industry, 3rd party companies can provide unbiased assessments of the ingredients and potency of CBD products.

Again, thanks to the lack of government regulations at the moment -- CBD companies are not obligated to conduct 3rd party testing. When a company chooses to submit its products to a 3rd party laboratory for verification at its own expense and inconvenience -- you can feel highly confident that the company is committed to transparency and excellence in its offerings.

Needless to say, this isn’t the norm -- most companies don’t bother with this step, and in fact, numerous journalists have randomly tested CBD products to see how they stack up to label claims. Disturbingly, many of these white hats have uncovered troubling differences between what the CBD products claim they contain and what their actual ingredients are.

For instance, a Milwaukee-based news team analyzed 20 different CBD items from a variety of Milwaukee and Waukesha County shops.[1] The items included popcorn, gummies and oils. Those CBD products were then submitted to Nascient, an independent cannabis testing lab licensed in California, and Wisconsin Hemp Scientific, a lab in Waukesha County.

Interestingly, the results from both testing facilities matched up. Of the 20 products tested:

  • 2 products had more CBD than advertised (10% of sample size)
  • 16 products didn’t have the amount of CBD that was claimed on the label (80% of the sample size)
  • Only 4 of the tested products had between 75-100% of the CBD quantity claimed on the package (20% of the sample size)
  • And, perhaps most alarmingly -- of the products that had less than the CBD amount claimed on the label:
    • 1 product had only half of CBD quantity claimed on the label
    • 8 products had less than a quarter of the CBD it promised
    • 4 products didn't contain any CBD at all

False Advertising on CBD Product Labels Can Lead to Misdosage

These vast inconsistencies can cause particular problems where dosage is concerned. Further, there’s a concern about toxicity and impurities. Simply put: When you find out that the CBD product you’re using isn’t what it says it is on the label, what does that mean about the safety and hygiene of the product as a whole?

Firmly believe that transparency and accountability are critical. Only use CBD products that are fully tested through an independent 3rd party laboratory. The results of these tests are summarized in a Certificate of Analysis (COA). This article will cover what a COA is, what it tells you and how you can read it to know exactly what you’re getting.

How to Read a Certificate of Analysis: This Is Exactly What Your CBD Products COA Tells You

These are the standard pieces of information that a COA tells you about a given CBD product:

  • Potency & Other Cannabinoids
  • Terpene profile
  • Residual Pesticides
  • Residual Solvents
  • Microbials / Microtoxins / Heavy Metals

Let’s discuss what each of these things means:

Potency & Other Cannabinoids

Arguably, this is the most important section of your COA. This section lists out the 10 most common cannabinoids in cannabis. They are: THCa, Δ9-THC, Δ8-THC, THCV, CBDa, CBD, CBDV, CBN, CBGa, CBG, CBC. Don’t get too bogged down in the details and the letters -- what you’re most concerned about are CBD and Δ9THC. The Δ9THC level is what we’re talking about when we say “Zero THC” -- legally (according to state and federal laws), a product must have a Δ9THC level that is 0.3% or less. Don’t be alarmed if the combined values of THCV, Δ8-THC, and THCa exceed that limit -- these versions of the THC cannabinoid are not active, and therefore have no psychotropic effects.
As far as CBD, you’re looking for the volume to meet or exceed what the label claims.

Terpene Profile

You’ve likely heard of terpenes. In the words of Leafly, terpenes are “aromatic oils that are secreted in the same glands that produce cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Terpenes are color cannabis varieties with distinctive flavors like citrus, berry, mint, and pine. Terpenes play a key role in differentiating the effects of various cannabis strains.”[2]

Why does it matter how many terpenes, and of what variety, you can find in our products? Simple: Terpenes offer additional therapeutic benefits, pleasant flavors and distinct aromatic bouquets in CBD products. (Translation: Terpenes help determine how your CBD product will smell, taste and work.)

Generally, terpenes are considered desirable -- seeing that your product contains them is a good thing. But if your product doesn’t contain terpenes, that’s not a bad thing.

Fun fact -- α-limonene imparts a lemony smell, and α-pinene gives CBD products a pine needle scent. At the bottom of the terpene section, you may find a “Primary Aromas” note -- this gives you some insight into how the presence of terpenes affects the final flavor and scent of your CBD product.

Contaminant Analysis

It’s important that your CBD product contains the amount of CBD that its label claims, and that the level of THC does not exceed 0.3%. As we’ve discussed, the COA also gives a breakdown of the terpene profile in your CBD product.

In addition to a description of the “good things” in your CBD product, the COA can also clue you in to any potential bad things.

Pesticides, heavy metals, solvents and microbials

-- yuck! Those aren’t the kind of things that you’re looking for when you set out to buy CBD products. That’s why Unstoppable is committed to testing for harmful pathogens, contaminants and microorganisms like arsenic, lead, mercury, salmonella and more. Unstoppable works hard to source its hemp, and we keep strict quality controls over each of our production and packaging processes. But some steps of the complicated process of making CBD products take place in different locations, and we want to be absolutely certain that no contaminants are entering your product directly or indirectly during any stage.

Testing Details

Finally, any good COA includes details related to the testing procedures that each product has undergone. This section includes loads of important information -- including:

    • The date of testing
    • The type of tests used
    • What different acronyms used in the report mean
    • Contact information and specific point person for the tests conducted
    • Information about the sample or strain submitted for testing

One More Thing: Watch Out for What’s NOT Tested, Too

Now that you know how to read a COA, you may be surprised when you look at some companies' test results whose COA may be a lot less robust.

Most retailers that test, are only testing for potency -- not necessarily offering an analysis of any other relevant facts about the CBD product. This isn’t enough – ingestibles should provide full panel testing, with results published on their corresponding COAs.

Conclusion: Always Look for a COA

You wouldn’t buy a used car without having a mechanic or trusted individual to confirm its condition. You wouldn’t consume a homemade food item unless you knew and trusted where it came from.

When you look for CBD products, it’s important to be just as picky about sources and testing. We feel legitimate CBD companies make their COAs available because they care about transparency, and we always use independent, 3rd party testing to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the results.

When it comes to your health, don’t take chances.

[1] https://www.cbs58.com/news/cbd-test-shocking-results

[2] https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/terpenes-the-flavors-of-cannabis-aromatherapy

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