COA’s and their importance

COA

Table of Contents

Prop 64

One of the biggest changes to the cannabis industry was the requirement for laboratory testing of all products that would be sold to consumers at the dispensaries. This occurred in 2018 when Prop 64, recreational adult use of cannabis in California, was enacted. The Department of Cannabis Control – then called the Bureau of Cannabis Control – made very specific rules regarding cannabis businesses and products within the regulated cannabis industry. Testing was also to be regulated and only was to be done by licensed and accredited cannabis testing laboratories. One of these new requirements included the testing of potency, pesticides, heavy metals, residual solvents, microbials, mycotoxins, and foreign materials, and the test results were formatted into a Certificate of Analysis (COA). The COAs were to be provided to the DCC/BCC, businesses, retailers and even consumers should they inquire about them. The intention was to regulate the products that were being sold to consumers and to verify that cannabis and cannabis products were labeled accurately and that they were safe for consumption.

Safety & Failures

These changes affected cannabis businesses significantly. Products that had never been tested for any of the safety items before, were now required to be tested and were failing. When the first phase of regulatory changes occurred and pesticides were suddenly required to be tested for, many businesses started to have cannabis flower and products fail for Myclobutanil. While Myclobutanil had been widely used as a fungicide by cannabis cultivators, with the regulatory changes those who had been using the fungicide were finding that their crops were failing due to unsafe levels of Myclobutanil. This also affected their clientele, since the cannabis flower was being used to make other products such as edibles or concentrates, which was causing the products to fail for Myclobutanil as well. To avoid continued failures and loss of product, the cultivators had to stop using Myclobutanil and find other, safer options to use as fungicides and pesticides; and the producers had to find new sources of cannabis flower that was clean and usable for production purposes. Many of the changes to the testing requirements forced businesses to reevaluate the safety of their products. 

Potency

Another big hurdle with cannabis testing was the crackdown on potency claims. Up until the new testing requirements, there was no requirement to have cannabis products tested for its labeled potency claims. Some businesses did do testing regularly to ensure their claims were accurate, however there were many that did not. This was most evident to consumers prior to the regulatory changes, who would purchase products and be expecting a certain effect from the product based on its labeled potency claim but would have inconsistent effects. Sometimes a person might not feel any effect and other times they might feel “too high” which can make people feel many different and uncomfortable effects such as dizziness, nausea, anxiety, and paranoia. With the start of regulated testing, this led to businesses having to do more testing and to failures should the product’s label claims be off by 10% or more. For consumers, the new regulations meant they could be more at ease and rely upon the products’ claims.  

Regulation

The testing of cannabis products has changed a lot over the years and has never been more regulated than it currently is. Every product that is purchased inside a licensed dispensary must have passed all safety testing, has accurate potency claims and its COA must be provided to any consumer upon request. The laboratories who do cannabis testing and provide the COAs are essentially the gatekeepers to the regulated market, since they are the ones who are providing testing to verify that a product is safe for consumption and telling the DCC when a product fails for any category. Without accurate testing it is not only misleading to consumers, but it also puts the cannabis business and testing laboratory at risk for being audited by the DCC and potential suspension of their business license. Cannabis testing laboratories have a high standard to uphold for regulatory reasons and for cannabis consumers. Without regulated testing consumers would be purchasing cannabis products that could have misleading potency information and unsafe levels of pesticides, heavy metals, residual solvents, microbials, mycotoxins and foreign materials. 
 
Lillian Howard

Lillian Howard

Account Manager, Northern California

For additional testing inquires, email [email protected]

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