If you’re looking for an expiration date on your cannabis, you won’t find one. That’s because there is no set expiration date for cannabis. Many factors will impact the longevity of your cannabis, with storage being the most essential factor.
Weed can go bad, but most of the things that make weed go bad are preventable. Improperly stored cannabis can spoil, and older cannabis that wasn’t protected can significantly lose its potency.
If you’re currently holding a bag of cannabis found under your bed, here’s what you need to know before you try to roll it up and smoke it.
What Is the Shelf Life of Cannabis?
Under optimal storage conditions, properly dried and cured cannabis purchased at a dispensary will last for two years. Most people will use up their cannabis in a much shorter time frame.
People who bulk purchase their favorite strain or people who only use cannabis on special occasions can properly protect their cannabis and enjoy it for years.
Weed That’s Spoiled
Weed that comes into contact with moisture or contaminants is dangerous to smoke. It can’t be cleaned off, sanitized, or otherwise returned to its former glory. Drying it off or waiting for it to dry will only lead to further problems.
Before you got your cannabis, it was dried and cured by an expert cannabis grower. All the moisture was removed, and the flower was allowed to set. While cannabis requires stable humidity, it doesn’t require excessive humidity and shouldn’t come into contact with water or any other liquids.
The way you might attempt to dry your cannabis at home is not the same way growers dry freshly harvested cannabis. As soon as a liquid has spilled on your cannabis, its fate has essentially been sealed.
If you act right away, you might be able to salvage it by putting it in a bowl of rice, but you’ll need to use it up as soon as it’s dry. It also won’t taste the same, because many of the terpenes will exit with the moisture.
Cannabis that retains moisture can grow mold and bacteria inside the flower. You won’t be able to see it from the outside, and it may be hard to detect when you grind the flower up.
How to Tell if Your Weed is Spoiled
If you can see mold or contaminants on the cannabis, it’s spoiled. It may feel wet to the touch, take on the texture of a cotton ball, or have a strange smell. It may smell like a basement, or even worse, like ammonia.
Weed That’s Just Old
Cannabis perpetually ages, but preventative maintenance can dramatically slow the process. Cannabinoids change with time.
Exposure to light and heat can eventually turn THC into CBN, a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid that people sometimes use to support better sleep.
While old weed isn’t necessarily harmful, it has little to no potential to be helpful.
How to Tell if Your Weed is Old
If you already smoked the cannabis and you still aren’t feeling any effects an hour later, the cannabis was old. If you haven’t yet used it, there are a few ways to determine if it’s too old to produce effects.
If you know you bought the cannabis more than six months ago and you didn’t store it in an air-tight container that blocks out all the light, it’s best to assume that it’s no longer potent. If you’re curious, try a little bit and see what happens.
Old cannabis changes color. It will begin to appear a muddy brown, with its brighter green hues shifting to a dull olive drab. It becomes very dry, and it might make a crisp sound if you squeeze the flower in your hand.
It will also lose its smell. Cannabis terpenes are very sensitive. Exposure to air will cause them to evaporate in a short window of time. Without terpenes, there’s no unique identifying profile for your cannabis. It won’t taste like anything but burning plants, and its effects will be thwarted.
What Your Cannabis Needs
Cannabis will last nearly an eternity if it’s stored in the correct container. The problem is that most containers often used for storing cannabis aren’t providing adequate protection. The container your cannabis came in is a form of primary packaging, and it isn’t intended to keep your cannabis fresh for eternity.
Zip-top bags, mason jars, and upcycled glass food containers only seem like a good idea. In reality, they aren’t doing anything to prevent your cannabis from prematurely aging or spoiling adequately.
Protection From Light and Heat
Cannabis cannot be exposed to light or heat until it’s time to smoke. The heat from a lighter (or vaporizer) causes a reaction that activates the cannabinoids. If the cannabinoids become activated before the moment of use, they’ll begin to dwindle in potency until they ultimately fade away.
You can’t keep your cannabis in an area of your home where it usually gets hot—store cannabis away from windows and away from your kitchen appliances. Don’t place it in a cabinet or under a sink near hot water pipes.
Light can have the same effect as heat, but the effects transpire slowly. If you can see your cannabis through the container, the container is letting in light. The ideal storage container should be completely opaque.
An Air-Tight Container
If air can enter the container, terpenes can exit the container. When cannabis loses its terpenes, it loses all of the flavor and aroma that led you to choose that specific strain. A lid that seals completely will keep your cannabis locked into its perfectly dried and cured state without letting the terpenes leave.
Adequate and Sustained Humidity
The last step growers take before they package your cannabis and send it to the dispensary is the curing process. The curing process allows the flavor of the cannabis to mature and develop. It also helps to keep the terpenes safe.
Growers place the dried cannabis into an air-tight vessel that blocks out all the light, and they carefully control the humidity of the environment. This curing process can last up to 16 weeks, but it can technically continue indefinitely.
Using humidity packs in your cannabis storage container can replicate the same conditions and continue to cure your cannabis at home. Humidity packs are very simple to use. All you need to do is write the date on the pack, toss it in with your cannabis, and periodically check the pack. When it develops a uniformly hard texture, swap it out for a new pack.
Humidity packs are very low maintenance, and they make a world of difference in keeping your cannabis tasty and fresh.
Store Your Cannabis with Stori
Everything in your home has a place. The cereal goes in the pantry, the lettuce goes in the fridge drawer, the cleaning products go under the sink, and the towels go in the closet.
Where does cannabis go?
It doesn’t go in a zip-top bag hidden in the back of the closet or stuffed into an old pair of wooly socks. It doesn’t go in the freezer. It goes into a special cannabis storage container, which so few cannabis users actually have.
The Stori case is the perfect solution for cannabis storage. Each case comes with six Stori pods for storing flower and six Stori tubes for storing joints. The containers are made of food-grade aluminum. Aluminum is lightweight, much more durable than glass, and efficiently blocks out light.
The lids are color-coded to make identifying your favorite strains easier. They’re also child-resistant and pet resistant to keep cannabis away from curious kids and dogs.
You can write the names of your strains and the purchase dates on the lids of your Stori pods with a dry erase marker. You’ll always know what strains they contain and how long you’ve had them.
Inside the lid of each Stori pod is a place to insert a size 1 Boveda pack.
Boveda packs turn your Stori pods into little humidors. The pack lays down a monolayer of purified water to keep the terpenes protected while maintaining a relative humidity.
You never have to worry about your cannabis going bad or getting old if you’re using the right storage solution. Store your cannabis like you store your wine.