It happens to everyone. Maybe you misplaced a joint or forgot about the jar you keep in the top left cupboard, or maybe life just got too busy. And now you’re wondering: “Is the weed I stashed away for a while is still any good?”
Does Weed Go Bad?
Short answer—yes. Weed doesn’t really "go bad" like other produce but, unfortunately, it isn’t like a fine wine that gets better with age. Marijuana can actually lose potency and flavor over time, so keep that in mind next time you’re deciding whether or not you need a full ounce.
Why Does It Go Bad?
Cannabinoids are the chemicals inside marijuana that give its trademark high. One of the cannabinoids, THCA, morphs into the well-known THC when smoked or vaped. As time passes, these chemicals inside the plant break down, decreasing the high attained when consumed.
The terpenes in the bud supply flavor and smell. As with the cannabinoids, the terpenes break down after time. This causes flavor to become muted and lose that ‘fresh’ taste. It can also make the smoke harsher and more difficult to inhale.
Research has found that there are 113 different cannabinoids inside the marijuana plant, and there can potentially be many more. The breakdown of all these cannabinoids contributes to the old bud’s lack of flavor and potency.
How Long Will My Weed Last?
Generally speaking, weed should be smoked sometime within six months after buying it. This reduces the risk of any loss in flavor or potency. As with most pot smokers, it likely won’t last that long. But if you plan on stocking up so you don’t need to buy more for a spell, here’s what you should know.
Properly stored, weed can keep its potency for about six months to one year.
Healthline website reported that weed will lose about 16 percent of its THC after one year. This effect gets worse with time with roughly 41 percent of THC lost after four years. Light, oxygen, and moisture all contribute to the breakdown of cannabinoids.
Light: Weed that has been sitting in direct sunlight for too long becomes dry and flaky. Too much light can also heat up the container the weed is in, creating moisture.
Moisture: Marijuana that sits in a wet or damp place for too long can produce mold, which can lead to negative effects when consumed. Don’t smoke moldy weed.
Oxygen: Weed is a plant after all, and as with all plants, oxygen breaks down the chemicals inside over time.
How to Store Weed
If you’ve been smoking for a while, you remember the days of small plastic baggies and tin Altoid cans. One time even a crumpled CVS receipt. That worked at the time, and it will continue to work in a pinch, but it’s not the best way to stash your supply.
Weed lasts the longest in a dark, dry place with little oxygen intake and heat. To make weed last as long as possible, you’ll need an airtight container located in a place with the right temperature and relative humidity.
The best storage container for bud is airtight glass or ceramic jars. These types of containers keep moisture and oxygen out and extend the shelf life of weed. Mason jars, which are relatively cheap and easy to get, are a perfect container for making weed last longer. Some dispensaries also sell containers designed specifically to store marijuana.
The temperature of where the weed is kept also affects the shelf life. Too hot, and moisture can build up and cause mold. Too cold, and the trichomes could dry out and cause potency loss. A good place to store marijuana is in a dark, dry location like a kitchen cabinet. Don’t put your weed in the fridge or freezer. The cold temperatures can dry out or freeze the trichomes and reduce the weed’s potency.
Researchers agree that weed is best kept between 59 and 63 percent relative humidity. Above that can cause mold, below that can cause the bud to dry out. There are products, such as humidors, that can keep your weed at the exact humidity needed to extend shelf life.
Is My Weed Still Good?
So, you’ve found an old stash and are wondering whether or not it’s good to smoke. The odds are, yes.
But if it’s been hidden for a particularly long amount of time, there are some things you should look out for before lighting it up.
Mold: If you find mold anywhere on or near the weed, toss it. Inhaling the spores of mold can lead to serious respiratory issues. Typically, the mold will look like small, white cobwebs growing on the plant. Be sure to check your bud carefully if it’s been sitting for a long time.
Dryness: Is the old weed you just found super dry and dusty? If so, it’s still okay to smoke; but don’t expect the best high you’ve ever had. The bud will have less flavor and potency. And be careful when inhaling, dry weed can hit harder than the fresh stuff.
But I’m Not Talking About Flower
If you’ve got cannabis in other forms such as concentrates or edibles, the rules change on how long the shelf life is.
For edibles, keep in line with the expiration date. The weed may not go bad, but the food surrounding it can, just like any other snack. If it looks like something you shouldn’t eat, don’t eat it.
As for concentrates like wax or live resin, California and Nevada have one-year expiration dates. It’s safe to follow those guidelines.
How Much Weed Should I Buy?
If you like smoking the freshest possible weed every time, use it up in under six months. If properly stored, the bud should retain its potency and flavor over that time. Of course, keeping weed that long creates all sorts of risks, like accidentally leaving the jar open or leaving it on a windowsill.
To be safe, buy for about a month or two at a time. That amount is different for everyone, so stock up accordingly.
No, weed doesn’t go ‘bad’ like a gallon of milk. It will lose potency and flavor over time but is safe to consume as long as there’s no mold.
If you don’t want to risk it, check out Cannasaver to stock up on some fresh bud.