Although many of us consider cannabis a miraculous plant, capable of solving many of the world’s problems, it doesn’t last forever. Does weed go bad? Just like any other plant product, an orange, a head of lettuce, a carton of juice, cannabis does eventually go bad.
What about extractions, oils, and properly cured bud? In these formats, does weed expire? Although the expiry date will vary, cannabis in any format will still eventually get too old to smoke.
When Does it Expire?
The debate is still out on an exact date that weed expires. When does weed go bad is a long-term debate among avid pot smokers. It depends largely on the strain, extraction method, and processing. Commercial products, like extractions, shatters, and budders, will likely last longer than those made at home.
The common consensus on lifespan for a perfectly cured flower is roughly one to two years. However, this assumes proper storage. Obviously, the roach you found in your couch or the little baggy of weed you found in your purse is another matter. Improperly stored weed can change potency and cannabinoid content. Learning to store cannabis properly can help extend its lifespan.
Although the debate still rages about the specific lifespan, there is a general consensus about one point. Weed is not like a fine bottle of Italian wine; it does not get better with age. Even properly stored cannabis will lose potency over time, and its cannabinoid profile will shift. The high will never be what you remember.
Depending on storage technique, the bud will either become drier or damper with age. If the weed dries out, its still likely safe to smoke but the smoke will be much harsher on your lungs. If the bud was damp, to begin with, it has a high risk of developing mold. Never smoke weed that you suspect has gone moldy.
Has Your Stash Gone Bad? How to Check
For the at-home smoker, there isn’t a verified way to check the age of your weed. You have to rely on your senses to determine freshness. You know what a dank, delicious bud is supposed to look, smell and feel like – so use your in-depth knowledge when checking on the freshness of a suspect stash.
- Smell: Old, dried out weed will have a subtle, yet distinct smell. The terpenes have long since expressed their aromatics. An old flower will likely smell far less delicious than expected. If it’s moldy, it should have an even more distinctly stale smell. Use your common sense, if it smells funny, it probably is funny.
- Touch: A perfect bud will be sticky, and slightly springy to touch. It won’t crumble into dust when you crush it. Under the same gentle squeeze test, a stale bud won’t hold up. If your stash crumbles into a fine powder with little effort, it’s probably way past its expiry date.
- Look: What color is it? Are there moldy spots? Look closely because sometimes mold can be confused for trichomes. Has the color changed over time? Old weed may look bleached and moldy weed may appear darker than before, or have spots of white or black mold.
If you are wondering about the lifespan of other cannabis products, such as shatters and oils, it can be a little harder to tell. Due to the solvent used during the extraction process, it’s likely that the final product will have a much more stable shelf life. But, it can be much harder to determine if the product has gone off.
If stored correctly, its safe to assume that a high-quality extraction will have a longer shelf life than your standard bud. The main risk in extractions is a change in consistency. Shatters, for instance, may develop a sugary texture, instead of a crystallized structure. Does the over all smoke quality change? That is up for debate.
How to Properly Store Weed
Cannabis products purchased through a dispensary will thankfully come fully cured and ready to smoke. The densely packed flowers should be moisture free and have a little risk of developing mold. It’s critical to avoid mold growth on weed because it can have some pretty serious consequences for your health.
Storing weed isn’t difficult, and more often than not you’ll be smoking it before it even has a chance to go bad. Considering most weed will depreciate in potency somewhere between 12 to 24 months, it’s highly unlikely you’ll still have any leftover.
That said, if you do want to put some product into storage, perhaps for the upcoming apocalypse, proper storage is essential. All flower should be kept in an airtight container, away from heat, humidity, and light.
Few people know that ultraviolet light exposure can chemically alter the cannabinoid content of their weed. Longterm exposure to sunlight converts everyone favorite cannabinoid, THCA, to CBNA. CBNA is less psychoactive than THCA. It still has some medicinal properties, but the high it produces is less extreme than its THC cousin.
Keeping your buds in a cool, dry, and dark space is vital to maintaining the potency. Although weed tends to come in clear ziplock bags, don’t let that fool you when it comes to long-term storage. If you aren’t going to smoke it right away, lock that bud up in an opaque container in your closet or under your bed. A vacuum sealer is also a good investment for longterm weed storage.
Some old-school growers still recommend putting your extra pounds of packaged weed into your freezer; you might want to think again. Even in a ziplock bag, marijuana stored in a freezer tends to absorb moisture, putting it at increased risk of mold. And just like that old bag of frozen peas, its prone to developing freezer burn.
Instead, experts suggest paying closer attention during the curing process. Although the freezer might seem like a tempting option, at the end of the day a cool, dry and dark storage space is the best bet.