In our last post, we talked about CBD and Cannabis marketing strategies, and mentioned the importance of CBD and cannabis third-party lab testing to assess product purity and potency. At Radicle Science, every product we study first has to be tested by Anresco, a highly reputable third party testing lab, before they qualify to participate in our randomized controlled trials (RCTs). That’s how we ensure study products include the stated ingredients in the stated quantities—and nothing more. We’ve learned a few things along the way that might be helpful if you’re thinking about testing your CBD or cannabis product at a third party-lab. Here’s what you need to know.
How many CBD and cannabis brands third-party test their products?
The answer is… well, a bit complicated. The bad news first; not all brands test their products in spite of making claims about purity and potency. This is because anything outside of baseline certifications required by the FDA Good Manufacturing Practices and various state regulations is something left up to brands. Further certifications aren’t something some brands are eager to do, because they take time and money.
The good news is, thanks to advocacy from organizations like Leafreport, the Council for Federal Cannabis Regulation (CFCR) and the Clean Label Project, the number of brands testing their products is growing.
Leafreport publishes an ongoing report that shows which brands are getting their products regularly tested. The Leafreport CBD Oil Industry Transparency Report launched in 2020 with only 37 different products and brands. As of Leafreport December 2021, they’ve vetted 2946 products from 136 brands. More and more CBD brands are feeling pressure to validate their ingredients as the consumer begins to expect it. As this keeps happening, we can bring transparency and regulation to an industry that needs to build consumer trust.
Why should CBD or cannabis companies use a third-party testing lab?
The CBD and cannabis industry, as we all know, is unregulated. In order to capture a wider, savvier consumer market, these brands need to self-regulate. If customers are wary as it is, it would be hard for brands to convince them of the accuracy of their labels if they do internal testing only. Third party CBD testing labs can give brands an impartial and unbiased report on what’s actually in each product batch and also helps with providing visibility into batch to batch consistency.
Which cannabis certifications are the most recognizable?
Brands will advertise that they’ve been certified by reputable organizations in order to maintain integrity with consumers. Here are some of the more well-known certifications we often see printed on packaging labels:
National Safety Federation (NSF) certifies CBD and Hemp products NSF/ANSI 173, NSF 229 and NSF 306 (Certified for Sport®), Non-GMO, Gluten Free while also testing THC levels and residual solvents, and Proof of Supplier Assurance.
U.S. Hemp Authority certifies that growers, manufacturers and brands adhere, at minimum, to the federal standards for Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) as well as their own higher standards for quality ingredients and top notch processes.
Clean Label Project THC Free Tests CBD hemp products to make sure they don’t contain THC.
Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) Program
What are cannabis testing lab accreditations?
In addition to the above certifications, it’s always a good idea to make sure the third party lab you use is reputable and follows best practices. If you want to have your products tested independently at a third-party cannabis testing or CBD testing lab, be sure to only use labs whose methods have also been certified. Here’s just one certification that the lab Radicle uses to test products we conduct studies on (Anresco) has met: International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Look for “meets ISO 17025” standards.” You can also see if they have any of the below certifications:
If you’re still on the fence about third party lab testing, reach out to us. We are happy to point you in the right direction.