When it comes to weed storage, both recreational and medical marijuana users want to keep their herb as fresh as possible for as long as possible. If you’ve been a marijuana user for a while now, you probably know that improper storage may result in moldy weed, or the development of mildew on your cannabis flower, so storing it properly is essential.
As time goes by, cannabinoids such as CBD and THC degrade to less potent counterparts, such as THC into CBN, the terpenes are less dominant, and your buds lose potency and smell. But what affects the long-term storage of cannabis and how long does weed last in a jar? We’ll answer these questions and give you more info below.
The Life Cycle Of the Cannabis Plant From Growth to Consumption
Before it’s fully grown, the cannabis plant goes through 4 stages of growth:
- Germination stage;
- Seedling stage;
- Vegetative stage;
- Flowering stage.
After these 4 stages, your cannabis plant is ready for the harvesting and drying process which ensures a longer shelf-life. The drying process can last for up to a week, after which cannabis growers proceed with the curing process. This enables the cannabis buds to dry further as well as develop a more potent aroma and flavor.
Curing can last anywhere between 2 weeks and 6 months, depending on the preferences of the grower. To prevent moldy weed, growers should remove air from the jars by “burping” them. After this process, the cannabis is not only ready for consumption but also for long-term storage.
After a while, the chemical content of weed changes as the active components like the cannabinoid THC, break down into less potent cannabinoids such as CBN. Furthermore, the terpenes lose their potency, and the flavor of the weed changes. So, you’re probably wondering, what’s the best-by date of cannabis? The next paragraph will dive into that subject.
How Long Does Weed Last?
Depending on the way you store it, weed can last you for a very long time, but it can also lose its potency rather quickly. While some keep their weed in a plastic baggie, others keep it in an airtight container that’s stored away from direct sunlight, so there’s no doubt which weed will have better quality over time out of the two.
Nevertheless, if weed has been properly grown, harvested, dried, and cured, as well as kept under the ideal storage conditions, its shelf-life is between 6 months to 1 year, and some cannabis can even last for 2 years.
How Fast Do Essential Cannabinoids Degrade?
The potency of the cannabinoids is what most cannabis users want to prevent from degrading, particularly the potency of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Depending on the way weed is stored, THC can start degrading to CBN just 6 months after the weed was cured and placed in a storage container.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, weed loses the THC potency in these intervals:
- Storing cannabis for one year will result in a loss of THC of about 16%;
- Storing cannabis for two years will result in a loss of THC of about 26%;
- Storing cannabis for three years will result in a loss of THC of about 34%;
- Storing cannabis for four years will result in a loss of THC of about 41%.
Old weed can taste harsh and smell funky since it loses terpenes together with losing precious cannabinoids, so cannabis users ought to know how they can keep their weed fresh.
Storing Your Cannabis Nugs
To keep your cannabis nugs fresh and potent, you need to look into adequate room temperatures, humidity levels, and storage containers.
To maintain the quality of your weed over time, it’s important to keep your room temperature between 60 to 68°F (15.5 to 20°C), and the relative humidity levels between 60% and 65% to prevent the development of mold and mildew. Generally, mold forms at relative humidity levels that surpass 65%, and your weed’s trichomes become brittle at an RH level below 55%.
Furthermore, long-term storage of weed means that you need to keep your cannabis buds in an airtight container in a cool and dark place, to prevent light from getting to your buds and converting THC to CBN. You can store your weed in a glass mason jar, in a cupboard that is away from heat sources and light for maximum quality retention, and use your weed within a year.
Keeping Weed Fresh for Longer
Each cannabis product has different needs when it comes to long-term storage. Cannabis buds need to be kept one way, while edibles should be stored in another way.
As stated previously, the harvested, dried, and cured cannabis flower needs to be kept in conditions that limit light, air, and humidity exposure. Buds are ideally kept in a small glass mason jar which is kept in a cool, dark place. The lid should be tight, and it shouldn’t be opened very often. Some cannabis users even step up their game to maintain the appropriate relative humidity and use cannabis humidors, or humidity packs such as Boveda.
Edibles can be kept at room temperature for a few days if stored in an airtight container that is away from direct light and heat sources. If you feel like you won’t finish the batch you bought at the dispensary before it goes bad, you can always freeze your weed brownies and simply remove them from the freezer once you’re ready to consume them again.
Concentrates and Tinctures
Concentrates and tinctures can have a longer shelf-life compared to fresh buds if they’re properly stored. Similar to fresh buds, they need to be kept away from direct light and heat, and they should be stored in airtight containers. They can last for about 3 years and even longer while still preserving their potency and freshness if they’re stored correctly.
Cannabis Vape Pens and Cartridges
Vape pens should also be kept away from light and heat sources, but the difference between cannabis flowers and cannabis oil that is inside a cartridge is that for the latter, you don’t need to worry about air exposure and increased humidity levels since air and humidity can’t enter the airtight cartridge container. Keep in mind that vape pens should be stored upright to prevent unwanted cannabis oil leaks.
As you probably know after reading this article, storing weed long-term doesn’t require a lot of work. You just need to keep your stash away from light and heat and maintain adequate relative humidity (RH) levels. That will result in your weed remaining fresh and ready to use for about a year.
If you want to store your weed longer than that, you may want to try vacuum sealing which is very popular in the food industry for long-term storage. With this method, you remove the air from the bag where you packed the weed in and seal it. That way, oxygen won’t enter the package and degrade its quality. It’s also important to remember that even vacuum-sealed weed should be kept in a cool and dark place to retain its cannabinoid and terpene content.