Amongst the recreational cannabis community, there are a few questions that always arise: Does weed actually go bad? How long does it last? Well, those answers may vary. It honestly depends on what “bad” means and the typical estimate for how long weed can last ranges. Perhaps the better question to ask is if whether or not cannabis degrades over time? The answer is yes. Sure, they may not rot the same way milk or meat does. It also might not age like a fine wine if you hold onto it for a while. However, cannabis does have a limited shelf life. Like any dried herb, dried cannabis flower are too susceptible to degradation and not storing them properly runs the risk of them losing all of the things that make them great (i.e. potency, aroma, flavor, appearance) over time. No matter if it’s grade A bud or a large supply that you possess, you will be confronted with the need to store your cannabis for extended periods of time.
Every cannathusiast knows there’s no greater hurt than discovering bad bud and knowing their hard-earned money has gone to waste. If you’re new to the world of cannabis, you may not realize that there are a few factors at play when storing your cannabis flower; and the very last thing you want to do is put its health in jeopardy. For those who don’t burn through all their weed in a timely fashion or have just stumbled upon their stash, get the most bang for your buck (and bud) with these tips about how to protect and store your cannabis flower properly.
What is Cannabis Degradation?
In a nutshell, cannabis degradation happens when the cannabinoids found in cannabis get degraded by environmental factors most commonly: temperature, air, and light. The truth is, cannabis in a way is perishable and some point its vibrancy, aroma, and potency will mellow over time. Fortunately, these few factors influencing the degradation process of cannabis flower are relatively easy to control and understand when they are maintained at the right levels.
No matter where you choose to keep your stash, humidity will play a key role in the health of your cannabis flower. High levels of humidity can create the perfect environment for bacteria and mold to grow, which is extremely toxic if smoked. On the other hand, low humidity might cause your weed to suffer the loss of its most appealing qualities, including potency, taste, look, etc. Extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, can also cause severe damage by causing the loss of moisture in the air, making it more susceptible to mold growth. For these reasons, it’s vital to stay on top of humidity control and not avoiding altering temperatures.
Another factor that can destroy the chemical composition of your flower is UV light (or sunlight).
Now if you’re a true cannabis lover, you might be questioning why the local pot shop you frequent insists on blaring stadium lights over their product displays? However, conventional lighting found in businesses or your home emits UV radiation at less significant levels in comparison to sunlight. You see what excessive sunlight exposure can do to grass, furniture, and even our skin. This same damage can happen to cannabis. Contact with these harmful UV rays (including UVA and UVB rays) causes your bud’s prized cannabinoids to degrade or break down, which can lead to a serious reduction in the potency and effect of your weed. Luckily, when kept out of direct light and under proper storage conditions, your cannabis is able to last a lot longer. In this case, light seems to shake things up. If you want to keep your bud fresh and potent, just as Darth Vader proposed his adversaries, “give yourself to the dark side, it’s the only way to save your friends” — you or your wallet won’t be disappointed.
Oxygen is a great thing, but too much of it can have some pretty awful consequences when it comes to cannabis. This chemical molecule has a habit of stealing electrons from materials, causing degradation and your cannabis is no exception to the rule. Although it’s required for curing weed, excessive amounts of air convert cannabinoids such as THC to CBN (cannabinol – a much less psychoactive cannabinoid), which lessens their potency and also makes it taste harsher. However, cannabis placed in storage with low oxygen can impact the humidity, especially if it hasn’t fully dried (which can affect the curing process) That said, it’s essential to maintain balance in the amount of air your bud gets exposed to.
To Do and Not To Do
Now that you understand the critical factors of cannabis degradation, here are some do’s and don’ts to ensure your stash stays potent, fresh, and effective.
- Do make sure your bud has completely dried out.
- Do store in a dry, dark, cool, dry place away from direct UV rays or sunlight.
- Do keep your cannabis in an airtight sealed container.
- Do consider a humidity monitor to assess RH levels.
- Do keep watch for newer cannabis storage creations available on the market.
- Don’t use cedar or plastic containers – glass is the best material to use for storage.
- Don’t store in or near extreme temperatures i.e. hot appliances or freezer.
- Don’t place your bud together with other cannabis products or supplies.
- Don’t store in plastic bags as the static charge on them causes the loss of trichomes.
- Don’t smoke your stash if you see the development of mold or other contaminants.
All in All
Naturally, desperate times call for desperate measures, but the chances of consuming stale, moldy weed doesn’t sound (or feel) too good. Sometimes you just have to dig right in and test things out and if your flower smells, looks, and feels great then you my friend, are good. Note that there are other cannabis products that may not be susceptible to contamination or require different storage techniques. But as for cannabis, using these tips should keep you on the right track.