Whether you’re new to cannabis or a veteran toker, properly storing your cannabis is a must if you want to maintain the potency, flavor, and quality of your products. After harvest, cannabis begins to degrade right away, but there are steps you can take to better preserve it and lengthen its shelf-life.
Does cannabis expire?
Cannabis flower – and all cannabis products – can expire. While all cannabis expires eventually, the shelf life of an individual strain or batch can vary significantly depending on how it is dried, cured, and stored after harvest. It will degrade far quicker, however, if it’s left exposed to heat, light, oxygen, or moisture levels, so storing cannabis properly is all about controlling these factors. When properly stored, cannabis flower can last between six months to one year without expiring.
Most cannabis purchased from dispensaries provides extensive labeling detailing the content of what’s inside. In addition to information like cannabinoid and terpene content, Michigan cannabis companies are required to include the harvest date of the flower. The harvest date lets you know the freshness of your product.
How to store cannabis properly
As a consumer, you may have little control over how cannabis is harvested, dried, and cured, but you can influence its shelf-life by storing it the right way. With these tips, you can keep your cannabis as fresh as possible for as long as possible.
1. Keep away from light
While cannabis plants need light to grow, UV light can destroy terpenes and cannabinoids after harvest, reducing the quality of your flower. Keeping your harvested cannabis flower in the dark is the best way to protect it from degradation caused by excess light. Try using an opaque container to protect valuable terpene and cannabinoid content during storage. If you don’t have access to a dark or tinted container, try using stickers or tape to cover any areas exposed to light. If possible, store your cannabis in a drawer or closet to further reduce its exposure to light.
2. Store in a cool, dry area
Low temperatures help preserve cannabis, while high temperatures increase the rate at which cannabinoids and terpenes decay. High temperatures can make buds brittle and dry, resulting in a harsh consumption experience. In addition, high moisture content could promote the growth of microorganisms like mold or mildew, which would result in contamination that renders your cannabis unusable. Make sure your flower is stored in a cool, dry place to avoid rapid degradation and contamination. You might also want to toss a humidity control pack in the drawer to keep conditions in the jar as optimal as possible.
3. Minimize exposure to air
Avoid leaving cannabis out in the open, as even contacting air will degrade its quality over time. High levels of oxygen can cause cannabis to dry out, resulting in more rapid loss of cannabinoids and terpenes. Storing your cannabis in an air-tight, glass container is the easiest way to ensure the buds remain protected from oxygenation. Additionally, storing your cannabis in an airtight container will help prevent moisture from increasing the risk of contamination.
How to tell if cannabis has gone bad
It’s relatively easy to tell if cannabis has gone bad. Start by looking at, touching, and smelling your flower. Here’s what to look for in this check.
- Smell: Expired cannabis may not necessarily smell bad. Instead, it will likely lose its smell entirely. This is because the terpenes evaporate over time, so expired cannabis will probably give off little to no aroma and taste super bland if you try to smoke it. Smell can also indicate whether your cannabis could be contaminated. Although mold and mildew can be hard to see in the early stages of contamination, they give off a tell-tale musty smell. If it smells like Grandpa’s attic, it’s time to buy new flower.
- Appearance: Expired cannabis may appear dry and brittle compared to lush, freshly harvested buds. Additionally, the appearance of powdery molds or mildews is a clear indicator that your cannabis has been contaminated. These will appear distinct from the frosty trichomes you’re used to seeing on freshly harvested cannabis flower.
- Texture: The texture of your cannabis will change significantly as it begins to age. Expired cannabis will typically feel overly dry and brittle. Alternatively, old cannabis that has been exposed to too much moisture may feel damp and spongy. Fresh, quality cannabis, on the other hand, won’t be too dry or too moist and should crunch and snap when broken apart.
- Taste: While it’s best to inspect all of the above criteria before consuming cannabis flower, it’s generally straightforward to tell when cannabis has gone bad by its flavor. Cannabis that’s gone bad will taste exactly the way you think: stale and rotten.
It’s always best to trust your body and senses to raise the alarm when something feels, smells, or tastes off. Remember, better safe than sorry. Always check the harvest date to be sure your cannabis is as fresh as possible, but remain wary of the signs that your flower may have expired all the same.
Store your cannabis properly to preserve it for the long haul
Purchasing high-quality cannabis flower is the first step to ensuring a longer shelf-life. Storing it correctly is just as important. If you’re looking to stock up on fresh, high-quality cannabis flower in Michigan, visit an Iconic Wellness provisioning center in Lowell, Sturgis, or Gaylord to shop for the best products in the state, including flower, edibles, tinctures, and more.