Nothing lasts forever, and this applies to cannabis shelf life as well. But how long does weed stay good? More to the point, can you use that long-forgotten bag of weed you discovered while cleaning out your closet?
Under good storage conditions, properly harvested, dried, and cured weed will retain its full potency for six to twelve months. Using it after that time won’t do you harm, but the weakness of its effect might disappoint you.
Loss of THC
THC is what gives cannabis its punch, and as weed sits in storage, the levels of THC will gradually drop. More specifically, after a year in storage, your packet of weed will have lost 17% of its THC content. After two years, its THC will decrease by 27%. After three years of storage, the loss of THC will reach 35%, and after four years or longer, you’ll be lucky if your weed retains 50% of its initial THC content.
This means that if you start with a package of weed containing 20% THC, it will have around 10% THC if you rediscover it 4-5 years later when sorting through your boxes. You can still smoke it, but you shouldn’t expect much.
Terpenes, too, will break down with time, making your weed lose scent and flavor. Old weed won’t smell or taste the way fresh buds do.
Can I Still Use It?
If you’re looking at an old bag of weed and wondering whether you can still use it, pay attention to the following:
- Mold: If humidity or moisture gets into your weed, it may develop mold. Never smoke moldy weed.
- Texture: If the weed is spongy and makes no sound when you pull it apart, it’s probably damp and possibly moldy. If it’s too dry and crumbles when you touch it, it’s long past its storage date. In either case, it’s probably better to toss it.
- Smell: Does your old weed smell funny? If so, it would be better to err on the side of caution and discard it.
Tips for Weed Storage
To maximize cannabis shelf life, store it in a cool, dark place in a hermetically sealed container. Don’t leave it in a plastic or paper bag—place it in an opaque glass or ceramic jar instead. Try not to open your container very often.
Ideally, your jar should be just large enough to store the cannabis: too much air in the container means excess oxygen, which may degrade your weed.
Keep your weed stash out of the sun. Sunlight makes THC convert to CBN, a non-intoxicating compound. While CBN has some beneficial medicinal properties, it won’t get you high.
Weed will keep longest and freshest at a humidity level of 54% to 63%. If humidity is too low, the weed may crumble and deteriorate. If too high, the buds may develop mold. To control humidity, you can check out products such as Boveda, Integra Boost, or Evergreen. If you want to go pro, look up specialized cannabis humidors such as Cannador or Apothecarry.
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