In California, the Department of Cannabis Control, formerly known as the Bureau of Cannabis Control, requires all cannabis goods to be tested for the following prior to being sold:
- Cannabinoids and terpenes
- Residual solvents and processing chemicals
- Residual pesticides
- Heavy metals
- Microbial impurities
- Moisture content and water activity
- Foreign material
Testing is very important to consumers, cultivators, distributors, and basically anyone connected to the cannabis industry. For consumers, first and foremost it is about product safety and knowing what is and isn’t in the product. Additionally, consumers generally want to know the cannabinoid and terpene levels in their product, since each cannabinoid and terpene is associated with different feelings.
Testing must be performed by a lab with proper licensing and certifications (such as, ISO/IEC 17034 accreditation). Depending on the batch size, different sample sizes are required for the lab testing. The lab produces a Certificate of Analysis (COA) with test results and uploads it to the State’s track and trace system called metrc (which stands for Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance). Each batch has a unique ID and can be traced by regulatory agencies.
How to read the label:
A typical compliance label will have the following specific test results information included.
BATCH ID: XX-XX-XX-XXXXXXXX
TOTAL CANNABINOIDS: XX.XX MG | XX.XX%
TOTAL THC: XX.XX MG | XX.XX%
TOTAL CBD: XX.XX MG | <X%
Total cannabinoids, THC, and CBD are expressed in milligrams and percentage per package, and per serving. Other cannabinoids and terpenes may be listed with per serving information.
Many brands will also include a QR code on the label for consumers to view a digital copy of the certificate of analysis (COA).