Every internet site suggests people should look for third party lab results from CBD companies. There is no doubt this is important and useful. However, in our experience, the vast majority of customers requesting these reports do not understand why they are requesting them, or how to read and utilize them. The primary question we need to understand is what labs are useful for and why are they important?
1. Safety - First and foremost labs will help you understand whether your product is safe and free of potential contaminants including pesticides, dangerous solvents and/or heavy metals
2. Potency - Labs can help ensure that the CBD potency is accurate with regards to the product label and that THC levels are legal and within the regulations which require that hemp products have below .3% THC. This helps to understand that you are getting what you pay for and that it is indeed a legal product.
3. Integrity of product - This assessment is much more nuanced but exceedingly important. Labs can help you asses the company integrity with regards to how truthfully and accurately they are representing their product with regards to whether the product is Full Spectrum, Distillate or from CBD isolate - these have important differences.
A few important considerations regarding the above points. First, by far, the most important labs to assess safety from any CBD producer are those from the original concentrate prior to dilution. The reason this lab is so important is that assessing safety of the concentrated hemp extract itself allows for a much more accurate picture of safety prior to it being diluted by factors of 10x - 50x in MCT or other carrier oils in final products. A non-detectable (ND) result in the final product says very little about its presence in the initial concentrate. This is critical for anyone taking a significant amount of these products over weeks, months and years. An undiluted safety lab better ensures that no bioaccumulation of metals and pesticides will occur over time.
Second - with regard to potency, it is important to remember that no lab is able to give a precise true value of the mg or % of cannabinoids in a product. All testing - products, medical and otherwise - depends on the quality of the test, preparation of materials, reliability of equipment and many other factors. This can get complex and I will try to keep it simple. We have spoken to directors at most of the major labs across the US - Proverde, SC Labs, Evio, and more - and the most consistent response they give regarding the accuracy of the testing is that their results will be +/- 10% of the true value. If you were to take a 1000mg bottle of Full Spectrum Hemp Oil and send this to 5 different labs, you will receive 5 different results. By and large, if they are a reputable lab, these values will fall within +/- 10% of the true value. They will not all come back at 1000mg - some will come back at 1020, 1080, 960, 930. This is normal and expected.
Simply put - be suspicious of any lab report which shows a value less than or over 10% of the value listed on a product label. Be even more suspicious of a lab which shows a value precisely equal to what is on the product label. In general, with hemp products, if a lab test shows a result within +/- 5% of the label value, you can rest easy that the company is working with integrity to provide a product that is representative of the what is listed on their labels.
Third - with regard to integrity of representing products as Full Spectrum vs Isolate or Broad Spectrum, Flora Sophia products are 100% true to label and always full spectrum. It is extremely common these days for products to be falsely labeled as full spectrum. This is, at times, very hard for a consumer to see. Of course, if your lab report shows only CBD and does not register amounts of any other cannabinoid, then this is an obvious tell that you are looking at an isolate or a certain type of distillate. Additionally, if your lab report shows 0% or non-detectable levels of THC, then you are also clear that this is not a Full Spectrum product, as all Full Spectrum hemp products will contain small amounts of THC and other cannabinoids.
However, what do you do when all cannabinoids are present? How can you tell whether the company is relying on Isolate or Distillate in their formulation? Look at their ratios! Ratios for CBD:THC in 90% of non-distilled Full Spectrum Products will fall between 22:1 and 28:1 and 99% will fall between 20:1 and 30:1. If the ratios are closer to 40:1 or higher you are guaranteed to be looking at a product which, though possibly containing some Full Spectrum oil, is spiked with isolate or distillate to achieve higher CBD numbers while keeping THC levels low. Such products are not inherently bad, but they are often mislabeled causing confusion and potential issues for customers.
Misrepresenting CBD oil as Full Spectrum on labels and website marketing not only violates customer trust and misleads them – they are not getting what they expect or are paying for. While we are not interested in calling out specific companies, we review hundreds of labs a month due to our interest in this matter and can state that there are literally dozens of major companies currently misleading customers in this way.
Again, if you have questions regarding labs - safety, potency, integrity of products - please feel free to reach out to us directly so we can support both your learning process!
Owner, Farmer, Formulator