Does your Cannabis have an Expiration date? Can you store it and keep it longer?
Does Cannabis expire? Definitely. Even when properly dried and cured, everything has a maximum shelf life. Weed is estimated to last between one to two years (at the absolute longest shelf life) with being optimally stored. If you use a pill container, or a non air-tight jar or bag like many consumers use, that is very unoptimal storage. There are many things that can affect the shelf life of weed. Any number of things ranging from terpene loss, THC degradation, oxidation, to UV light will all negatively impact the quality of your cannabis. All of these topics will be covered in this article. You will know how to properly store your cannabis to maximize it’s potential and longevity. We will also remove a lot of the guesswork and debunk some of the well established myths that have become pervasive in this culture.
First and foremost when it comes to keeping your cannabis in peak condition, is storage. Keeping your cannabis in an airtight, sealed environment with as little air as possible will ensure that it lasts as long as possible. Mason jars are the most tried and true container for this purpose, as they are nearly 100% air tight and come in a variety of sizes. Try to keep a variety of jar sizes, so you can fit just the right amount of cannabis in your jars, without a lot of extra space. Air is your enemy when it comes to preservation of most things, cannabis especially. Oxygen is known for causing deterioration and drying. Not only do terpenes evaporate in open air, but THC degrades as well into CBN (cannabinol), a non psychoactive but sedative cannabinoid.
Cannabis is not cheap and none of us want our purchase to degrade, so good storage is always worth investing in. Mason jars are a cheap option as mentioned prior, but there are a number of commercial products available that include pockets for humidity packs to sit in, or are otherwise more optimized for cannabis storage in particular. Anything air tight that is the appropriate size for the amount of cannabis will help to lock in its freshness.
UV Light and Temperature
To ensure freshness it is important to closely monitor the amount of light reaching your cannabis, as well as maintaining an appropriate and stable, low, temperature. Delta 9 Tetra Hydra Cannabinol (delta 9 THC) along with many of its accompanying cannabinoids are susceptible to changes in environment, and can degrade into lesser cannabinoids with improper storage. In this section we will go into some more detail, and make some simple recommendations to keep your cannabis in peak condition.
Light can easily damage or destroy your cannabis. Sunlight can cause cannabinoids to oxidize or to begin to break down simply from the heat it emanates. Keeping your weed away from direct sunlight by storing it in a drawer or cabinet will help to elevate its shelf life. Sunlight isn’t the only light responsible for damage though, as any light can have a negative impact on the terpene and cannabinoid content of your cannabis.
How to keep light and air away from your Cannabis
It is optimal to store your cannabis at an appropriate temperature to ensure that no cannabinoids are lost to degradation. Trichomes can break off as well and harm the chemical composition of your weed if temperatures are kept too cold. When growing especially, it is key to maintain a stable temperature so your cannabis can prosper. If conditions become improper for the cannabis, and temperature isn’t controlled, along with humidity, you may begin to see mold growth. All cannabis, and really many plants in general, contain mold spores with the potential for growth. It’s up to you as the grower to ensure that mold is handled appropriately and kept at bay.
All of this sounds like a lot to keep in mind, and it is, but luckily the solution is a fairly simple one. Air tight, UV protective mason jars are the simplest storage solution. However, if you only have clear mason jars, you can simply put them in a dark environment where light will not penetrate them. There are also a number of options on the market that claim to be entirely airtight, and block out all light. No matter what, finding a solution that works for you is simple.
THC Degradation over Time
Very few things are immune from the passage of times effect, and cannabinoids are no different. Given enough time, THC inevitably breaks down into CBN. The process can be slowed down considerably though, with proper storage and a careful eye.
Heat, open air (oxidation), and light, as covered above, are the main enemies of cannabinoids. Any of these will contribute to a loss of potential cannabinoids and quality, but with all of them, your cannabis can deteriorate very rapidly. This is why it’s so important to closely monitor the condition of your storage. Checking seals to ensure that they’re still keeping air out, visually inspecting your cannabis to check if it’s drying out. Smelling the cannabis to make sure that the terpenes are not being lost (more on terpenes in the next section). All of these are good measures to take to ensure your storage is up to par, and remains up to par.
If everything is done optimally, your delta 9 tetra hydra cannabinol, and the accompanying cannabis, will remain in smokable condition for anywhere from one to two years. This depends on the state of the flower before storage as well as many things, and only serves as a general guideline.
THC and cannabinoids aren’t the only things at risk when it comes to expiring cannabis; the equally as important terpenes are also highly volatile and susceptible to degradation and loss. Many terpenes evaporate at near room temperature, so anything above that can be very detrimental to the overall terpene profile. If possible, keeping your cannabis cool (but not cold; brittle trichome heads will fall off of cannabis that is too cold) will prevent terpenes from evaporating off in open air. If that isn’t possible, making sure you have the least amount of air possible in your container can go along way in preventing terpene loss. Any air in your container is an area for terpenes (along with moisture) to hang, outside of your cannabis. For this reason, it is optimal to pick a storage container that just barely fits your cannabis.
A very controversial topic in the cannabis industry is mold. No matter how pristine and sterile your growing environment is, mold spores exist everywhere, and they will grow if given the right conditions. For this reason it is very important to prevent excess moisture from going near your cannabis. Many people recommend putting a piece of orange peel in your jar to rehydrate the cannabis, but this is a good way to introduce mold spores and give them an environment to thrive on.
It’s important to make sure that you clean your mason jars if they’ve had other cannabis in it prior: mold spores from the old cannabis can take a hold of the new cannabis. Once mold takes a hold the bud in question is no longer consumable, so it’s important to be diligent of this. Mold spores can also travel quickly and contaminate the entire jar. There isn’t much you can do to salvage molded cannabis, besides to throw out clearly moldy flowers and quarantine the remaining potentially unaffected ones. However, you should always keep in mind that any cannabis that came into contact with mold will carry spores and has the potential for the spores to grow exponentially.
While there are a lot of things to keep in mind when it comes to cannabis expiration, and what you can do to fight it, it’s not by any means difficult as long as you are informed, responsible, and diligent. Proper storage is the single most important thing you can do to keep your cannabis in proper condition. An air tight container (mason jar or the like) sized properly for your cannabis, with limited light exposure in a cool environment will keep your product fresh for the longest. Keep an eye out for future articles pertaining to different types of storage containers you can purchase or acquire, that may be more specifically tailored to cannabis storage.
No matter what though, like any perishable item, cannabis does not last forever. At best you can get a couple years of storage out of it, before your cannabis is almost entirely CBN and devoid of moisture or terpenes. Visually it will be nearly the same, but it won’t be a good consumption experience if you decide to take it back out. Overly dry, terpene free cannabis is not only lacking in effects, but it is a harsh throat irritating experiences if smoked or combusted. If vaporized, overly dry cannabis can clog airways preventing vaporization from being possible.