Does Weed Expire (and How Long Does It Stay Fresh)

People have a tendency to ponder whether their weed is still smokable only when they come across some hidden ancient stash from god knows when. 

If this applies to you then you’re definitely at the right place, but the answer to the question does weed expire is somewhat complicated. 

Cannabis doesn’t go bad in the same manner as typical food products do, but it can be subjected to a significant drop in potency.

Old buds can also experience a change in both texture and smell/flavor, and in the worst case scenario, your cannabis can become moldy. We’ll cover the aspects of smoking old cannabis in greater detail later on.

How Long Does Cannabis Stay Fresh?

Weed that was adequately dried, cured and stored can remain quite fresh for an exceptionally long time.

If everything was properly executed, you can expect your cannabis to remain fresh for a period between six months and one year.

If stored well, weed can stay fresh from six months to a year. However, most weed won’t remain fresh for a year due to storing conditions.

It’s important to note that most cannabis users don’t have perfect conditions for their weed (such as specially designed containers with humidity control), so it’s not realistic to expect your weed to remain completely fresh for a full year.

As a rule of thumb, it’s much wiser to consume your cannabis within the first six months after you’ve purchased it, unless you’ve acquired top-shelf storage equipment (which we’ll cover later on in this guide).

How Does Cannabis Degrade?

In order to fully understand what goes on within a cannabis flower as it ages, we need to cover what happens with its most important chemical compounds including terpenes, but also cannabinoids like THC and CBD as buds grow old.

For one, terpenes, the compounds responsible for a very wide range of flavours and aromas, gradually break down over time. 

As a result, old weed will have a significantly diminished quantity of terpenes, and will taste and smell much less intense than fresh weed. 

Terpenes and cannabinoids such as THC degrade over time, making weed less potent or even smelling bad.

It’s also possible for the terpenes within a cannabis bud to degrade to such an extent that the bud ends up tasting and smelling harsh and gross. 

Just like terpenes, cannabinoids also experience degradation over time. This means that old cannabis will have a diminished potency compared to fresh weed.

Also, as the degradation process occurs, THC gradually degrades into CBN (cannabinol), which is significantly less psychoactive than THC.

According to an older United Nations study, the concentration of THC in cannabis stored at room temperature decreases at this rate: 16% less THC in one year, 26% in two years, 34% in three, and 41% less THC after four years in storage. 

Factors That Deteriorate Freshness 

There are four factors that play a crucial role in the deterioration of cannabis, and they include light, temperature, air and humidity. 

Light

Storing your weed in a container away from sunlight is essential, since exposure to light causes the chemical compounds in cannabis to break down.

The destructive effects of light on cannabis can be easily avoided by keeping your weed in an opaque container, or better yet, in a drawer or a cabinet.

Temperature

Both hot and cold temperatures can have a detrimental effect on weed, where exposure to warm temperatures quickens the breakdown of cannabinoids and terpenes.

It’s best to store your cannabis at room temperatures, just below 25°C (77°F).

On the other hand, cold temperatures can lead to an increase in moisture (resulting in mold), while freezing temperatures can cause the delicate terpenes to become too brittle, and as a result break off when you’re handling your weed.

Air

A constant exposure to fresh air causes the compounds in cannabis to oxidize, and it will also dry out the oils in which these compounds reside, lessening the overall potency and aroma. 

Exposure to air can be easily resolved by storing your weed in an airtight container. 

Humidity 

Exposure to humid environments is the most important factor to avoid, since humidity can result in moldy spores growing on your weed.

There are two distinct ways cannabis can go bad.

If weed was exposed to too much open air, warm temperatures and light, your weed will subsequently dry out and lose both its aroma and potency. 

Unlike the first way, exposing your cannabis to humid environments and cold temperatures can result in excess moisture, which can lead to the development of mould.

How to Determine If Your Weed Is Old?

In order to figure out if your weed has passed its prime, the first thing you need to pay attention to is the smell.

The gradual deterioration of aromatic terpenes causes old cannabis to lose its distinct fragrance, and after extended periods of time, old weed can even end up smelling foul and yucky.

Another important telltale of old cannabis lies in its texture. If the weed is completely dry and crumbles into dust when you break it apart, it’s safe to say that it’s old. 

To determine the freshness of the weed, you should pay attention to its smell, texture and the way it looks.

Smoking dry cannabis shouldn’t result in any negative effects, but since most of its terpenes have probably broken down it won’t taste as it should.

Old dry weed will also likely have a diminished quantity of preserved cannabinoids, so don’t expect to get too high from it.

On the other side of the coin, if your weed has a spongy texture and doesn’t make any noise when you break apart a bud, that’s a clear indication that it’s damp, and perhaps even moldy. 

If you notice that your weed has too much moisture in it, be sure to carefully inspect it for mold.

How to Inspect Your Weed For Mold?

Mold usually appears like miniscule fuzzy or powdery spots, and it’s oftentimes difficult to see unless you inspect your buds with great vigour. 

Moldy cannabis also has a musty hay-like smell to it, and can also have an atypical taste when you smoke it.

Moldy weed is recognizable by fuzzy powdery spots and a musty smell.

Consuming moldy weed doesn’t pose any grave health risk for healthy individuals, but can induce coughing, nausea and even vomiting. 

On the other hand, the use of moldy cannabis could lead to serious health complications in people with immune system disorders.

Either way, if you notice mold on your weed (or if you even suspect that it might be moldy), it’s best not to risk it and just throw that weed away.

How to Store Your Buds?

In order to adequately store your weed, the first thing you need to pay attention to is the container.

Avoid using metal tins since they let in too much air, which will dry out your weed. Also, avoid the use of plastic containers as plastic holds static electricity, and it can negatively impact the trichomes on your buds.

Wooden containers (like cigar humidors) are also a bad idea, since wood can transfer flavors onto your cannabis.

The best household items for storing weed are glass jars, as they do a fabulous job of limiting exposure to fresh air, and they also don’t hold any static.

The best option for storing your weed are glass jars or containers.

As for humidity, cannabis should be kept between 59% to 63%. If the relative humidity is lower than this your weed will steadily dry out, and if the humidity is higher, this will result in moisture, which can lead to mold.

There are two ways to keep the humidity at these desired levels. The first option is to add humidity packs (such as Boveda and Integra Boost) to your cannabis container, and the second (and more expensive) option is to purchase a humidor specifically designed for weed.

Finally, the spot where you keep your weed is also essential. Make sure to avoid direct light, and keep your cannabis container in a cabinet or a drawer.

Weed should be kept in a dark place (like a drawer), away from direct light and high temperatures.

Store the container on lower levels of your house (since higher levels collect heat), and avoid holding your weed container adjacent to various heat sources such as electronics. 

As we previously mentioned, both the fridge and freezer are not suitable for storing cannabis, as they can increase moisture and cause the trichomes to become too brittle.

References

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/does-weed-go-bad
  2. https://www.mic.com/p/does-weed-expire-heres-how-long-your-cannabis-will-last-16762103
  3. https://www.namaste.ca/blog/does-weed-expire/
  4. https://hightimes.com/guides/how-long-does-weed-stay-good-for/
  5. https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2020/jun/21/expiration-date-can-cannabis-go-bad/
  6. https://softsecrets.com/us/2017/04/26/how-long-does-it-take-for-weed/

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The Choom Gang

It began in 1979 with a group of friends on a small hawaiian island, with an even smaller van. This weed loving crew would go on to influence our world, but back then it wasn’t about the future, it was about having good times with good friends. Plenty has changed since then, but one thing remains the same; they are still sharing adventures, sparking ideas, and cultivating good times.

~Aloha

Disclamer

1. Please consume responsibly.
2. When canning any food at home (e.g. cannabutter or canna-oil) you should be very careful since there can be a risk of the appearance of toxin that can lead to botulism, a very serious illness. This happens when food is canned, processed, stored or handled. Bacteria that cause botulism can very quickly grow in cannabis edibles that are made at home. Bacteria can cause botulism poisoning which is a very serious illness that affects the body’s nerves and produces serious health consequences.

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