Were you gathering clothes to "donate" aka let sit in your trunk and found that stash you went crazy looking for 6 months ago? Maybe you had company and were making a dash to hide your stash and forgot where you put it. Are you thinking "Should I actually smoke this?"
You're in luck. Our "researchers" have been hard at "work" studying the effects of time and the environment have on the potency of THC and the overall shelf-life of weed. Here’s the scoop-
Can Weed Go Bad?
Can weed go bad is a complicated question. Like all organic matter, plant material decays over time. We're gonna bust out some high school Chemistry so hold onto your butts- Cannabinoids and terpenes do have a "half-life", if you will. After time, the potency of your marijuana will start to degrade and won't hit you in the face as hard.
Our friends over at High Times have talked with actual scientists and the real science behind it goes a little like this:
The cannabinoids and terpenes that make marijuana marijuana, degrade over time making the potency of your cannabis flower decrease. As the terpenes and cannabinoids decrease, the smell, taste and potency of the weed is impacted making for a less than optimal product. Think of it like this: weed has a “best by date” versus an “expiration date”. It may not be unsafe to consume but it doesn’t quite hit like the first time.
How Long Is Weed Good For?
Like most things, there are a lot of variables to consider when determining the shelf-life of weed. Has the weed been stored in an airtight container? Is it hot and humid where you live or more arid? What’s your mother’s maiden name? Did you vote in the last election? Was it kept in a Dime Bag?
In most instances, cannabis flower is good for 6-12 months when stored appropriately and under the right climate conditions. If you live in the south, your weed may reach its “best by date” via the mold train a little quicker than someone that lives in Colorado or a drier climate. Conversely, people in Colorado or other dry climates may find that their weed dries out versus getting moldy the older it gets.
We’ve focused on cannabis flower so far but what about edibles, concentrates and other THC products?
When it comes to edibles, if they are not homemade, there should be an “expiration” or “best by date” on the package. If you’ve made some homemade treats, base the “is this edible?” date on its non-THC counterparts lifespan. Remember- it is the food components of the edibles that go bad. Not the cannabinoids or terpenes. Also, fyi gummies have the longest shelf life but even then, you should ditch them around the same time you would toss a bag of Haribos in the trash.
As far as concentrates, tinctures and similar products go, if they are stored properly, you can expect them to last 1-2 years. Because these typically come in their own air-tight containers, you can check that must-have off your list if this is your preferred consumption method.
Whether your weed has been sitting dormant for 6 months or 2 years, there are some tell-tale signs that your weed has taken a turn for the worse.
Signs of Bad Weed
But Dime Bags, how do I know if this weed is smokable? Thankfully, we are here to answer the hard hitting questions. There are a few tell tale signs that your buds may have maxed out their shelf-life. Between the color, smell, taste and effects, there are a few indicators that your fresh bud may not exactly be fresh anymore. Remember though- different cannabis products can have different indicators that it may not be the best idea to smoke it.
A good way to know if your forgotten stash may be a no go, is its appearance. If the first thing you notice is that your buds that are drier than the Sahara desert or crumble like a dried up leaf, your stash may have reached its expiration date. On this flip side, if you take a close look at your weed and it looks like it has mold spores on it, consider it a hard no go.
If your bud has an amber hue to it, it is a sure fire sign that your weed has reached its use-by date. As time, temperature and light exposure take their toll on cannabis products, the trichomes begin to shift from clear to an amber color. Weed roughly the color of dirt? That is another sure fire sign that the freshness of your cannabis has been compromised.
We feel like a general rule of thumb in life is that if there has been a class-action lawsuit involving it (in this case, mold) it’s probably best to avoid it unless you are looking for a retirement plan.
Since cannabinoids and terpenes contribute to the smell of cannabis, you can anticipate the smell of your buds to diminish as time goes on. Moldy weed will smell like BO or a wet towel. Dry buds will smell similar to hay. The smoke from both will smell equally as pungent and honestly, it’s probably not a smell that will make you friends. No one likes the stinky kid.
If you decide to toke up on your old weed, you can expect a substantial difference in the taste compared to when it was fresh from your dispo or plug. Weed that is past its prime may taste nothing like the youthful bud it once was. In fact, old, dry weed may not have any taste at all whereas moldy weed will have a sour taste. We imagine that moldy weed tastes like a wet towel smells.
The United Nations on Drug and Crime (L-O-fucking-L) found that cannabis potency reduces at the following rate:
- After one year, weed loses roughly 16% of its THC.
- Two years in storage results in a loss of 26% of its THC.
- Weed loses 34% of its THC after three years.
After four years in storage, weed loses 41% of its THC.
That means after one year, your weed that was 20% THC is now 16.8% THC.
Might as well pack another bowl of that geriatric cannabis.
Factors That Influence the Shelf-Life of Weed
There are a variety of factors that can influence cannabis shelf-life. If you have bud that you plan on keeping for the long term, it is best to know the factors that can make sure you're keeping your weed fresh.
To maintain maximum potency, cannabis flower and its by-products like edibles, concentrates and tinctures should be stored in a cool place, ideally at between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. According to Evergreen Pod, you can get away with temperatures as low as 50 degrees. However, when it comes to heat, things can go south pretty quickly. Once you go above room temperature, you can expect to see an effect on your cannabis pretty quickly. Not only will excessive accelerate the degradation of cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis, but your edibles and concentrates will start to melt. When it comes to cannabis storage, we like to operate under the Goldilocks and the Three Bears rule: not too hot, not too cold.
Humidity is a big one for ensuring your weed reaches its maximum shelf-life. When storing cannabis, you should aim for 53%-63% humidity. If exposed to excessive moisture, your bud may be susceptible to mold. Storing your cannabis is an overly dry place and you'll end up with crunchy cannabis. Again, think Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Ensuring your cannabis is stored in a dark place and away from direct sunlight is the best way to make sure it reaches its optimal year shelf-life. Much like UV light can fade that Dime Bags sticker you slapped on your bumper, UV light contributes to the breakdown of cannabinoids and terpenes essentially fading your weed.
Weed is not like fine wine. Letting it sit for a long time does not make it fancier. The longer the weed goes unnoticed, the farther it gets from that fresh weed feeling.
How to Store Weed for Maximum Longevity
No one wants moldy or stale weed. The good news is there are a few different ways that you can store your ganja to ensure maximum flavor and effects for as long as possible. From storage containers to humidifiers, we’ve got tips so high (haha) quality you’ll be able to pass it on to generations to come.
Air-tight storage will help keep your cannabis fresher for longer. Whether it be a quality smell-proof, spill-proof bag, a carbon filtered pouch or a mason jar, the less air you weed comes into contact with the better. Not to mention, there are some pretty sick containers and glass jars on the market dedicated specifically to keeping cannabis out of the open air so you can really showcase the unique little sunflower that you are.
While most cannabis concentrates come in their own airtight containers, you can also scoop airtight concentrate containers from your favorite smoke shop or artist for proper storage.
Dark and Cool Storage
Dark and cool storage will also help keep you weed fresher longer. If you don't want to risk losing your stash again, you can keep your weed in an air-tight container and incorporate it as part of your daily stash pack. This way you're not stuffing it in the back of your closet again, repeating this vicious cycle over and over. Plus, you’ll have everything you need in one handy, dandy place.
Unless you are growing your own, you may not have the fancy equipment to measure humidity. You do have a body though so if your skin is flaking or you're constantly damp, your humidity levels may need some help. Aim for a temperate environment and you should be set.
We had an aunt that kept a piece of bread in her weed jar to absorb moisture. The problem is she absorbed all the moisture and it went from Miami Vice to 70’s shwag in record time. Moral of the story is that moderation is key.
Like we said above, aiming for a temperate environment for your cannabis storage will increase the shelf-life of the weed. Avoiding extreme heat OR cold can help decrease the degradation process. Too hot and may find the your concentrates, like a wax for example, may melt.
FAQs About Weed Expiration and Storage
Will Storing Weed in the Freezer Keep It Fresh Longer?
Absolutely not. Extremely cold and dry conditions actually speed up the breakdown of weed.
Is there a Way to Revive Dried Out Weed?
We just had an image of trying to perform CPR on a cannabis nug and we may just make it into a sticker. While the idea is valid and noble, there really isn't a way to increase cannabinoids and terpenes once they've started to degrade.
Can Weed be Harmful?
We're assuming you mean "Can Smoking Old Weed Be Harmful?" and the short answer is we don’t know for sure. What we do know for sure is that it won’t taste as good as the first go around and you’ll probably have to smoke more to get the same effect. Regardless of what the internet says, if your bud is moldy, do not smoke it. While the bud itself may not be harmful, smoking mold can cause serious problems like a fungal infection or other respiratory issues.
What's the oldest bud you've ever smoked? We're assuming you lived to tell the tale if you're here and reading this.