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How Long Does Cannabis Last?

Added 28 August 2022

As a home grower with access to lots of buds, you really need to know the answer to the question — how long does cannabis last?

In fact, you also need to know the answer if you're purchasing buds. 

Imagine you purchase your favorite buds but realize that you've bought more than you could smoke in a month. 

Of course, storing them is the best idea. Maybe you can put it in a ziplock bag and place it in your drawer. This should keep the cannabis buds fresh for the coming month.

But you are wrong. Cannabis can go bad fast if you don’t store them well. Ziplock bags or the wrong cupboard can even hasten the process of them drying out. 

So, what can you do? You can learn more about cannabis’ shelf life and take the right measures to ensure it stays fresh for a long while, so you can enjoy your favorite buds for months to come. 

Learn all about cannabis’ shelf life and storage techniques in this article. 

Does Cannabis Go Bad in Storage?

Cannabis in jars

The short answer is, yes, cannabis does go bad in storage due to various factors like light exposure, air, or incorrect temperature or humidity levels. However, the rate at which cannabis products go bad depends on various factors. 

The same also depends on how well the product has been harvested, cured, and stored by the seller. Under the right manufacturing conditions, products can last from 6 to 12 months. 

And if you store the products under ideal conditions at your home, you can optimize their shelf life even more. If you provide optimal conditions, your cannabis products can be stored for even two years!

But for most cannabis users, the conditions are often less than ideal. You may not be able to control the humidity levels and temperatures, and the products may even be exposed to light occasionally. In such conditions, the shelf life of cannabis products is often much lower than a year. 

So, what can you do now? You can either consume your cannabis products within six months, or you can take some measures to improve their shelf life, pushing it up to a year or more. Learn more below.

What’s the Science Behind the Shelf Life?

science behind cannabis shelf life

You might be wondering what happens to cannabis over time. Essentially, cannabis products contain various compounds, like terpenes and cannabinoids, that break down over time. The result is a less potent and flavorful product. 

Over time, the terpene in the product deteriorates, which leads to the products losing their aroma and flavor. This is why old cannabis buds taste somewhat dull and lack the signature cannabis smell. If the buds are too old, they may even taste harsh or nasty.

Similarly, cannabinoids like THC and CBD break down over time, which makes the cannabis product less potent. Even if you have purchased buds with over 25% THC levels, expect them to be as potent as a bud with 15% THC over the months. 

How fast does this happen? The research by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime suggests that cannabis loses THC potency at the following rate, on average:

  • One year: 16% THC loss
  • Two years: 26% THC loss
  • Three years: 34% THC loss
  • Four years: 41% THC loss

Why Does Cannabis Go Bad?

why does cannabis go bad

There are various reasons why cannabis loses its potency and flavor over time, even if you store them in decent conditions. Here are the reasons:

Too Much Light Exposure

Light is good when cannabis is growing, but once harvested, light becomes its enemy. The UV rays from the light break down various cannabis compounds, including THC and CBD. This is why light is perhaps the main reason why cannabis loses its potency over time. 

If the light exposure is ideal (read: minimal light exposure), cannabis can stay potent for even two years. 

Open Air Exposure

Similarly, if cannabis products are exposed to open air, the terpenes and other chemical compounds can dry out, leading to cannabis losing its flavor and potency.

The ideal air condition to store cannabis is in an airtight container with minimal temperature fluctuations. But that does not mean cold is better — never store your cannabis in a freezer. More on this later in the article.

Excess Humidity or Other Contaminants

The above sections discussed cannabis’ potency and flavor, but there is another problem that you may face if you store your cannabis incorrectly. If the humidity in your storage area is too high, your cannabis products can harbor mold.

And unlike a cannabis product that has lost its potency or flavor, you should never smoke cannabis with mold on it. It can make you sick in no time. 

So, to keep your cannabis free of mold, you need to control the storage area’s humidity. More on this below.

How to Know If Your Cannabis has Gone Bad?

How to Know If Your Cannabis has Gone Bad?

Knowing the reasons behind expired cannabis is one thing, but identifying old cannabis is another. But to make the concept easier for you, here are a few ways to tell if your cannabis has gone bad during storage:

Do the Buds Crumble in Your Hands?

One of the first signs of old weed is that it is dried out. Grab one of the buds and try to break it apart. If it crumbles in your hand or makes a crackling sound, it is too dry. This is a sign that it has lost a lot of its terpenes and cannabinoids during storage due to either air or light.

It Lacks the Flavor or Aroma?

Another good way to identify old cannabis is if it no longer smells or tastes the same as the first day. This is another sign that it has lost its terpenes, which give the buds their signature flavor and aroma profile.

Does It Have Mold?

In other cases where the product was exposed to too much humidity, it can harbor mold. 

Unfortunately, mold is somewhat difficult to spot with the naked eye. So, grab your cannabis and look very closely for mold. If you spot sticky, shiny little hairs on the surface, that is a terpene. But if the bud has a grayish-white coating on it, be wary as it may be mold.

Also, moldy buds tend to have a very distinct aroma. Instead of the classic pungent aroma, if your buds smell musky or mildewy, similar to hay, it is because of mold. 

In some buds, you can even spot white, fuzzy spots that resemble talc powder. That’s another sign of mold. 

Mold is unhealthy and toxic even if you inhale mold spores, let alone smoke an entire joint full of mold. If your buds have white, fuzzy spots or taste like hay or musky, you need to toss them. It is beyond repair. 

In most cases, smoking moldy cannabis can make you very sick, leading to excessive coughing, nausea, and vomiting. But if you have a weakened immune system or other health conditions, it can cause various severe illnesses or even death. 

And moldy cannabis is more common than you would think. According to a study by the University of California, Davis, moldy cannabis commonly gets shipped to many customers even if the buds are fresh. This may occur due to incorrect curing techniques, bad shipping conditions, or improper packing. 

Never consume cannabis that has any signs of mold on it — it's it is not worth it. 

Can You Consume Old Cannabis?

can you consume old cannabis

Yes, in some cases, even if your cannabis has gone bad, you can still smoke it. Just remember that it won’t be as flavorful or potent as you would expect it to be. But usually, smoking old weed is completely harmless and won’t make you sick.

But at all costs, avoid cannabis with mold on it, even if you have just bought it. Better to lose some cash on a bud than lose many on a hospital bill.

How to Keep Cannabis Fresh for Longer?

How to Keep Cannabis Fresh for Longer?

As mentioned earlier, you can extend your cannabis product’s shelf life by using a few storage techniques. They are easy to follow, and for most people, they work excellently. Here are a few ways you can do this.

Choose the Right Container

The first step is to choose the right container for your cannabis buds. Plastic and tin can don’t work well enough. Plastic tends to hold static, which can damage the delicate trichomes on the buds, affecting the product’s flavor and potency. And tin cans aren’t the most air-tight.

Your best bet for storing cannabis is glass jars with airtight seals — they are non-static and limit cannabis exposure to air. More on storage options are below.

Keep an Eye on the Humidity

Humidity is one of the biggest enemies of cannabis when you want to store it. So, you need to maintain the right humidity levels. 

For storing cannabis, the best range of relative humidity you should aim for is between 59% to 63%. If the humidity is lower than this, it may dry out the buds, and if it is higher, it can lead to mold infestation within the buds. 

The easiest way to maintain the humidity levels is using humidity packs that help maintain the humidity within the container. You can also use a humidor — a specialized device used to store cannabis. However, these are expensive and may not be the best option for you.

Store in a Cool, Dry, and Dark Place

Even if the storage container is airtight, your cannabis may be at risk if it is exposed to excessive temperatures and light. Thus, you need to store it in a place that is shaded from direct light, especially sunlight, and has a stable temperature. Remember, even if the storage location is too cold, your cannabis can dry out and lose its trichomes. 

The ideal temperature for storing cannabis is below 77°F or 25°C, and the best location is a dark space, like a cabinet or a drawer.

Do Not Place It in a Freezer

Many users also recommend storing cannabis products in a freezer — it has a stable, low temperature, no light exposure, and relatively low humidity. But even this can damage your cannabis products. 

The freezer has low temperatures that can damage the trichomes on your cannabis, which will reduce your cannabis product’s potency and flavor profile. Plus, the freezer experiences a lot of moisture fluctuation, which can lead to the growth of mold within the buds. 

Of course, you can store it in a freezer when you're about to prepare concentrates to ensure the trichomes fall away easily. 

Use the Right Method for Your Cannabis Product Type

You need to store flowers in a different condition than edibles, and the same applies to all types of cannabis products. So, your storage techniques should be tailored to what type of cannabis product you are storing. 

Here are a few tips on how to store cannabis depending on its type:

Flowers or Buds

If you want to store buds, you need to follow the tips mentioned above. So, keep it in a dark place with limited exposure to light and air, maintain the relative humidity to 54% to 63%, and use a glass jar. You can also use humidity control packs or similar products. 

Additionally, avoid opening the jar or exposing it to light too often. Only open the jar when you want to take out a bud. 

If you don’t mind shelling some money for storage, you should consider getting a humidor like Cannador or Apothecarry. 

Concentrates

On the other hand, if you want to store concentrates, you should stick to their original packing or small containers that are designed to hold dabs and other concentrates.

Dab-specific storage containers are made of silicone, glass, or similar materials, and limit the exposure to light and air. Just remember to place it in a cool, dry, and dark place to ensure the maximum safety of cannabis.

Vape Pens

If you are storing vape pens, you should keep them away from direct light. Other than that, you don’t need to worry about air exposure. The cannabis oil within is held by an airtight container, so humidity or air exposure won’t affect it at all.

But keep the vape pens upright when placing vape pens to keep the cannabis oil at the bottom. You can use it immediately wherever you want. 

Edibles

Edibles come in various shapes and styles, and each requires a slightly different storage condition, such as the following:

  • If you want to store edible candies and gummies, you can treat them as solid cannabis concentrates since they have a long lifespan. However, do keep them in an airtight container placed in a cool, dark place.
  • Edibles and gummies can melt easily even if they are exposed to little heat. So, always store them in a cool place that does not experience any heat spikes during the day. 
  • Also, you should refer to the expiry date on the product to get an idea of its shelf life.
  • On the other hand, if you want to store baked edibles at home, you need to store them like any other baked product. Keep them in your refrigerator in a sealed glass container. 
  • Cannabinoids and brownies break down at about the same rate, so if you keep the brownies safe, the cannabinoids within should be safe, too.
  • Also, baked goods from dispensaries often come in an airtight container. Use the container to store, too. Just remember to place it in the fridge and finish the product before its expiry date.

What are the Best Containers to Store Cannabis?

best containers to store cannabis

There are many containers that you can use to store cannabis products, from ziplock bags to mason jars. But some are excellent for storage and others, not so much. Here are the best items for storage based on that.

Mason Jars

Mason jars are made of glass, and you can purchase them with a tight-fitting lid that ensures the jar remains airtight. Keep the jar in a cool, dry, and dark place and it can safely hold your cannabis for over a year!

You can also place humidity packs in the mason jar with your cannabis products to control the humidity levels within.

Black Glass Jars

In some ways, black glass jars are even better than regular mason jars. They can be purchased online for a slightly higher cost than mason jars, but they are worth it.

They are made of dark glass, which keeps the UV light out. So, if you don’t have a completely dark place, you can use dark jars. Place them in a shaded area as light can still heat the jar and raise the internal temperatures. 

Stash Boxes

If you want to store your cannabis at home without anyone knowing, you can use stash boxes. They are excellent at keeping your cannabis smell within the box and keeping the humidity out. 

Vacuum-sealed Containers

In a vacuum-sealed container, be it a box or a jar, the air within has been sucked out. So, you don’t have to worry about air or humidity too much when storing your cannabis in them. 

Still, you need to keep these containers in a dark and cool place to limit light exposure and temperature spikes respectively.

Cigar Humidor

Cigar humidors are another terrific choice to store cannabis in long term. They are meant to store tobacco, but if you take the right steps, you can use them to store cannabis too!

Just remember that it will not keep your cannabis fresh forever. Most of them are built with cedar wood, and there is a chance that the wood’s scent or flavor may leech into your cannabis over time. 

So, the longest you should store your cannabis in a cigar humidor is about six months. However, if you like a slightly woody taste, like tobacco, you can store your cannabis for longer. 

Also, many cigar humidors maintain relative humidity as high as 70%, which is not good for cannabis. So, use a modern humidor that allows you to monitor and control the humidity levels within. 

Ziplock Bags

Ziplock bags are common, especially with street weed that is often sold in them. But they are only good for storing cannabis for a short time. You can use ziplock bags to store cannabis only if you intend to store them for a couple of months. 

The first reason is that plastic generates static electricity, which can damage the trichomes and make the cannabis less flavorful and potent. The second reason is that they are not as airtight as you may think. They can let a lot of moisture in or let the cannabis dry out quickly. 

About Humidity Packs

Humidity packs are a great addition to your cannabis storage container because they help maintain the humidity levels within. If you use them, always read the packaging labels to know more about their lifespan. Usually, humidity packs last for up to four months before they go bad and turn too hard or dry.

Summary: How Long Does Cannabis Last?

There you have it — everything you need to know about how long cannabis can last in storage, the factors that affect its shelf life, and what you can do to protect it from the elements. 

To summarize, cannabis goes bad due to three major reasons: light exposure, wrong temperatures or relative humidity, and airflow. They can make the cannabis dry out or lead to mold, both of which can make your experience bad or even dangerous if you smoke moldy cannabis.

So, choose the right container to store cannabis — an airtight one — and store it in a cool, dry, and dark place. And never place your cannabis buds in the freezer, it will just make things worse for your buds. 

If you are using humidity packs, know their lifespan. Avoid using plastic ziplock bags as they aren’t as effective and can even damage your buds. If you purchase a humidor, ensure it has a humidity monitor, so you can maintain the right humidity levels within it. 

Now you know how to store your buds for not just months but also years if you do it right. 









Comments

Sators
Sators

Honestly is not only depends on how you keeping it and where holding. Plays a big role how you harvest cannabis and depends on your flushing as well. For example, I had gotten from street poor flashed cannabis with, honestly lot of high amount nutrients left in buds, it is keep fresh for couple months and after it is turned yellowish and not smokable even holding on proper conditions. I got experience, start growing cannabis my self and now I can keep it even longer two years and it is keep its green colour and nice taste…:slightly_smiling_face: