How ACS Laboratory Tests Your Hemp & CBD

HIGHLIFE Magazine - ACS Laboratory - Hemp and CBD Testing


Hemp is now available in countless consumer products in the form of teas, capsules, smokable flower, edibles, salves and vapes, to name a few. One aspect is true regardless of the product or strain. Hemp must contain less than .3% THC to be federally legal. All other attributes of the plant however, are up for state-level debate. In Florida, legislators proposed a list of common hemp contaminants, and dictated the safe allowable limits for each. That’s why ACS Laboratory tests for THC along with all required pesticides, heavy metals, mycotoxins, residual solvents, and microbiological agents like eColi and mold.

ACS Compliance tests

√  11 or 16 Cannabinoid Potency (FOR HEMP  THC < .3%)

  67 Pesticides

  21 Residual Solvents (for extracts and edibles)

√  4 Microbiology Panels

  5 Mycotoxins

  4 Heavy Metals

Beyond Compliance 

We don’t stop at compliance. At ACS Laboratory, we test hemp products to uncover all the compounds that make up the therapeutic profile of the plant, along with their flavors and fragrances. We also conduct additional safety tests to ensure that products are free of lesser-known, yet dangerous contaminants. Beyond THC, we can determine the potency of up to 15 additional cannabinoids like CBD, CBDA, CBN, CBG and THCA. The cannabinoid potency  information is invaluable for brands to market their products to customers who  benefit the most from that particular profile. In addition to potency, we  test for terpenes and flavonoids, which indicate the efficacy and how the  product may smell, taste and look. At a safety level, we test for special contaminants like Vitamin E Acetate in vapes and Glyphosate, the dangerous weed killer known as Roundup. Additionally, we conduct shelf life and stability testing to determine best usage recommendations.

Most importantly, we tailor our testing approach to the particular product on hand. For example, hemp flower may not need the same tests as extracts and vice versa.  This is the first of a three-part series, where we review ACS Laboratory’s protocols, challenges, and tailored recommendations for testing hemp capsules, edibles, and tinctures. 

Raw HEMP Capsules

HIGHLIFE Magazine - Ava Wellness

Recently, scientists discovered that cannabis contains several “minor cannabinoids” that may rival the therapeutic benefits of THC and CBD. We believe that means the market will eventually flood with products like these. One issue however, is that these lesser known compounds are highly volatile, which means they cannot survive normal heating or extraction processes. As a result, companies who want to market minor cannabinoids must preserve the plant’s raw form. 

AVAWellness Raw CBDa Capsules is one example of a minor cannabinoid product we tested recently. These vegan, non-gmo ingestibles tout 5.4% CBDa per gram, a very high percentage in comparison to average hemp strains. Up until recently, scientists didn’t think CBDa could survive the process of digestion nor did they consider it to have medicinal value. But as it turns out CBDa has powerful therapeutic benefits and helps the body to metabolize CBD better, resulting in higher bioavailability.  

Testing Challenges

In order to accurately test products like AVAWellness’ CBDa Capsules for potency, we use a protocol similar to the one developed for hemp. This is a process that we refined over years of research and investment in machinery. Unfortunately not all laboratories have the tools to measure raw flower without altering its chemical composition. But through our proven method, we employ Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) to safely test samples at room temperature without requiring heat. 


HIGHLIFE Magazine - HIGHLIFE Full Spectrum Hemp CBD Extract

Along with hemp flower, tinctures are one of the original derivative hemp products on the market that are massively popular today. Hemp tinctures are sublingual solutions that consist generally of CBD combined with carrier oils such as Hemp Oil, MCT OIL or Avocado. They are produced by separating cannabinoids, such as CBD, from the plant using either CO2 or a solvent like Ethanol or Butane and later evaporating that solvent to leave behind a potent, natural extract. Tincture Oils typically  onset within 20 minutes  because they enter the bloodstream through the vessels under the tongue. For this reason it is recommended that when taking a tincture it is held under the tongue for 40 seconds. If swallowed right away without waiting 40 seconds,  it goes through the digestive system and is absorbed quickly, having very low bioavailability. They also typically should have a long shelf life when stored in a cool, dry place. Quick onset, natural relief and a long shelf-life are key benefits that attract a broad base of consumers.

Recently we tested a tincture  HIGHLIFE® Full Spectrum Unflavored OilHIGHLIFE’s 1000mg Hemp CBD Extract oil is organic, non-gmo, and compliant with THC regulations. Its potent formula  is marketed to the same consumers who seek products to alleviate stress, post-work out soreness, and skin irritation. This product is full spectrum, which means it contains CBD along with the entire plant’s cannabinoids like CBN and THC. It’s formulated without additives, which means it tastes earthy and appeals to customers who prefer less processed oils. To be sure the product was as potent and safe as Highlife intended, we conducted a full panel of safety and potency tests. The safety panel included residual solvents, such as ethanol, butane and benzene, which can be extremely dangerous if accidentally ingested.

Testing Challenges

Unlike HIGHLIFE’s hemp-based tincture, other brands are adding non-cannabis ingredients to their formulas, such as terpenes from fruits and vegetables. These formulas are innovative, made with natural ingredients, and create an appealing aroma. But they can also present a few challenges for the end user that we must consider during testing. For example, if citrus terpenes are too highly concentrated in the formula, they can be irritating to the skin and eyes. That’s why we want to test the potency of non-cannabis terpenes to be sure their concentration levels are safe and mimic that of the plant itself. Moreover, non-cannabis additives can potentially be a source of contamination or pesticides. That’s why we want to carefully analyze tinctures with non-cannabis ingredients to be sure they are free from toxins that could compromise the end product. 


HIGHLIFE Magazine - Bhumi CBD Chocolate Bar

As the cannabis and hemp industries grow, consumers are demanding edibles in a big way. Not only do edibles provide alternatives to smoking, they also appeal to a broader audience due to their taste, discretion, and convenience. Moreover many people prefer edibles for relief from chronic ailments that would usually require very strong prescription medication to treat pain, anxiety and lack of sleep. From cannabis chocolates, to CBD infused gummies, protein bars and candy, ACS Laboratory tests for 100’s of brands who want to guarantee the safety and quality of their edible product.

In the last two years we’ve seen a huge increase in  gummy (CBD) edibles, but chocolates aren’t going anywhere either. Specifically dark chocolates, like Bhumi’s Dark Chocolate Belgian Orange Bar are on the rise. Bhumi’s bar is vegan, contains less than .8 grams of sugar per serving, and is formulated with dark as opposed to milk chocolate due to its known health benefits. Research has found that dark chocolate can lead the body to produce compounds that mimic the therapeutic effects of cannabis/hemp. Thus, edibles like these may be more potent while also appealing to demand for both healthy and delicious products. Regardless of preference however, all customers want to be sure that the food they ingest is safe and contains the precise dosage listed on the label. But how can a customer be sure of the THC potency results. In fact research indicates in some cases, the more chocolate the sample contains, the less accurate the results. At ACS, we are aware of this challenge and have refined our protocols to guarantee precision. Before testing for potency, we utilize what’s known as a Cryogenic grinder or freezer/mill; where we flash freeze and pulverize the edible to homogenize it. This method provides consistent, reliable results and we have the awards to prove it. For the last two years, we have received badges for excellence in edibles potency from the Emerald Test, a nationwide Inter-Laboratory Comparison test. Review the attached COA to see the rich cannabinoid profile of this product.

Recommended Tests for Tinctures, Edibles and Hemp Capsules

Beyond compliance testing, brands wanting to stand out will perform specialized testing and let their COAs tell the story. That’s why they work with us to test for lesser known contaminants along with the plant’s full spectrum of healing ingredients. 

√  Terpene Testing 

Terpenes are aromatic organic compounds that work synergistically with cannabinoids to produce therapeutic effects. When brands know what terpenes their product contains along with the corresponding concentration levels, they can educate consumers on the product’s unique benefits.  

√  Flavonoid Testing

Flavonoids are responsible for bright, non-green pigments that also synergistically produce an array of therapeutic benefits when combined with cannabis and hemp vast compounds. ACS is one of the only laboratories with the capabilities and protocols to test Flavonoids. When brands are making products such as edibles where flavor plays a big role, testing for Flavonoids and educating the consumer on why they are important is big differentiator.

√  Specialized Pesticide Testing 

Glyphosate, paraquat and diquat are three types of pesticides known as herbicides, which chemically kill weeds and regulate plant growth. Glyphosate in particular is one of the world’s most widely used herbicides and recently made headlines as the primary toxic chemical in Monsanto’s Roundup fertilizer. While we are not legally required to test for Glyphosate, but for consumers who want to be sure that their product is 100% free of these chemicals this is very important.

√  Shelf Life Testing & Stability 

Shelf life & stability determines the number of days the product remains stable based on recommended storage conditions. This is a vital piece of information for consumer safety that varies depending on the product type and ingredients. Shelf life is not a legal requirement yet but will definitely make a product stand out next to its competitors. 


For more about testing raw capsules, tinctures, and edibles contact ACS Laboratory today at