Sometimes, when you buy weed, a baggie will last you less than intended, but other times, it can linger for longer. Maybe you decided to take a break from weed or lower your consumption, or maybe you tend to buy more than you currently need, and have to store it for a while.
Either way, short-term weed storage is no problem, but what about long-term storage? You must have wondered at least once how long marijuana can be stored before it loses its freshness (aka potency).
Whether you’re a medical marijuana user, a recreational user who buys in bulk, or a grower who’s looking to learn about the shelf life of weed, in this article we cover all about weed storage and how you can prolong its expiration date.
Does Weed Have an Expiration Date?
For all the magical properties that weed has, sadly, it doesn’t stay fresh forever. Just like all the natural products that we consume, over time, weed will deteriorate. However, the shelf life of weed is actually pretty impressive, considering the fact that it’s a plant. When you store it properly, it can last for up to a year (or even two), which is not bad at all, especially for growers.
That said, if you’re a grower, you must know that proper curing is essential to preserving weed and it’s the first step towards extending the shelf life of your buds. The best cannabis sold in dispensaries has been properly dried and cured, so when you buy it, it’s already prepared for consumption or storage.
If you tend to keep larger quantities of weed at home, it’s essential to know how to prolong its shelf life, and the first step is knowing what affects it.
What Factors Influence the Shelf Life of Weed?
First things first, before you learn how to prolong the shelf life of weed, you need to know what causes it to deteriorate quicker.
The number one enemy of the two main cannabinoids, THC and CBD, is light, especially direct sunlight. The UV rays present in sunlight will quickly degrade the cannabinoids, and your weed will become a lot less potent for a small amount of time. Storing your buds away from sunlight will also help to maintain a proper temperature, which is another important factor.
Temperature fluctuations are not great for cannabis because they can either dry out the flowers or affect the humidity levels and cause a buildup of mold and mildew. Therefore, ideally, the place where you store your weed should have stable temperature levels, ideally between 60-70ºF.
Like we said, humidity control is very important for keeping your weed fresh. If there is too much moisture, your buds will inevitably become moldy, especially at higher temperatures. However, if there’s not enough moisture, the terpenes will evaporate quickly and the cannabinoids will degrade. The ideal relative humidity levels would be between 59% and 63%.
Exposure to oxygen will cause moisture to evaporate very quickly, which degrades the cannabinoids. In other words, your nugs will oxidize, and nobody wants that. When THC degrades, it turns into CBN, another cannabinoid. This is not too bad, because CBN has its own benefits – it’s milder and helps with insomnia – but it’s not psychoactive and is created only when THC degrades. So, if you want to keep your weed fresh and psychoactive, look for vacuum-sealed containers.
What Happens to Weed When It Loses Its Freshness?
When weed goes stale, the first thing you’ll notice is that it will change its color and become a little drier. Buds may easily break when you handle them, and they will feel crusty or crumbly. Stale weed doesn’t taste as nice as fresh weed, and it’s not as fragrant as most terpenes have already evaporated. Also, its potency will be a lot lower, though you might get some benefits from CBN – it may not give you a potent high, but it can still relax you.
The Best Ways to Keep Weed Fresh for a Long Time
Let’s share our tips on weed storage so you can keep those nugs fresh and potent for as long as possible.
Store the Nugs in Airtight Containers
Airtight containers are best when it comes to storing weed. They not only prevent moisture from escaping, but they also preserve all the flavors well and protect the nugs from pathogens entering through air exchange.
Mason jars are by far the most commonly used storage containers by weed enthusiasts. When you store weed in mason jars, make sure there’s only a small room at the top, about 1/2, but not more, just for proper “breathing.”
Put the Containers in a Dark Place
In case it wasn’t obvious already, it’s best to store your weed somewhere dark, and away from sources of heat. You can also look for an opaque container for double caution, but don’t leave it out in the light even if it’s opaque, as the UV rays can still reach it (only they will be diffused). Therefore, a dark place with the absence of light (like a drawer or a cabinet) is ideal.
Maintain a Balanced Room Temperature and Relative Humidity
As we already said, temperature and humidity are factors that affect weed’s shelf life. When they’re on the higher side, the buds are more prone to damage. Therefore, storing your stash somewhere dry and with stable temperatures (no fluctuations) should be okay.
What You Should and Shouldn’t Do When Storing Cannabis
Now that you know the basics, here are some more pointers on what you should do (or avoid doing) when storing cannabis.
For cannabis storage, it’s best to avoid:
- Storing the weed in plastic containers because plastic is the worst. It not only builds up a static charge which can attract the trichomes and damage them, but it’s also bad because it makes the buds “sweat,” which creates unnecessary moisture. Plus, plastic contains chemicals that can alter the taste. Therefore, glass containers are the best as they don’t interfere with the taste and keep the air out better.
- Storing it in a tobacco humidor, because cedar will impart a taste on your buds and it will not be nice. It’s better to use marijuana humidors that are made out of lighter materials (bamboo, teak, or walnut wood). However, take note that for long-term storage, you need something more durable than wood.
- Refrigerating the weed is a no-no because it’s the quickest way for moisture build-up that will inevitably lead to mold. On top of that, refrigerators often have temperature fluctuations and light exposure.
For cannabis storage, it’s best to:
- Place Boveda packs or hygrometers in the containers to maintain humidity. This is one of the best tips we can give you in regards to storage. Boveda packs or similar products are specifically made to preserve things that are sensitive to humidity, so just place one in the jar and don’t worry about it.
- Properly clean and disinfect your storage containers to prevent contaminants from ruining your weed. You may do everything right, but even if a small overgrowth of bacteria is present in the container before you pack your weed, it can ruin it.
Can You Freeze Cannabis for Long-Term Storage?
Freezing weed is a controversial topic in the weed community and you’ll hear many opposing opinions on it (and with a good reason). On the one hand, freezing weed could keep it fresh for up to two years with minimal potency loss, but, on the other hand, frozen weed must be handled with a lot of care as it’s very fragile.
The trichomes, which are basically the main sources of cannabinoids, are tiny and delicate, and can easily break off. On top of that, you’ll have to store the nugs safely to avoid any further damage. Therefore, it’s not impossible, but it requires a lot of effort.
If you decide to freeze the weed, you can freeze it in glass mason jars, or you can also use freezer bags as they’re more resistant to air than regular bags. Just try to remove as much of the air as you can, zip them tightly, and wrap them in aluminum foil. When unfreezing, allow the weed to thaw at room temperature.
The Takeaway – Simply, Store Marijuana In a Cool, Dark, and Dry Place, and You Should Be Good
From what we’ve seen, there are quite a lot of factors that can impact the shelf life of weed, but in reality, it’s not nearly as complicated as it sounds. You don’t have to use any complicated equipment to achieve these conditions. Just making sure that your stash is stored somewhere in the house where it’s dark and away from heat is good enough, to begin with, as lower temperature also reduces the risk of excess humidity. Finally, if you’re feeling brave, you can also freeze it.