If you have ever found a forgotten joint in the back of your weed drawer, or you had to leave your stash behind while traveling, you might have wondered, “does weed go bad?” The phrase “goes bad” usually refers to food that has rotted and become unsafe for human consumption. Dried and cured cannabis is not a suitable environment for microorganisms to thrive, so cannabis doesn’t really go bad in the same way food does. However, weed kept in a moist environment can mold, and weed stored such that it is exposed to oxygen or sunlight can lose its flavor and potency. But when weed is kept in ideal conditions, it doesn’t really go bad. Even a 2700-year-old sample of cannabis unearthed and analyzed in the modern era still had enough psychoactive components to get someone high. (Read Ancient Cultures That Used Cannabis to Get High to learn more.)
The answer to “How long is weed good for?” varies based on the conditions in which you store the weed. Light exposure, oxygen exposure, and temperature impact the potency, flavor, and psychoactive effect of your weed. In general, cured cannabis loses about 16% of its THC after 1 year; 26% of its THC after 2 years; 34% of its THC after 3 years; and 41% of its THC after 4 years. When THC is exposed to UV light or oxygen, it degrades into CBN. Old weed samples typically have high levels of CBN. CBN is another psychoactive cannabinoid, but many people feel that it is more sedating and less intoxicating than THC. As a result, cannabis stored in improper conditions may have a different cannabinoid profile and psychoactive effect than if it had been stored properly.
The subtle fruity and herbaceous flavors of cannabis flower come from terpenes. Terpenes are highly volatile aromatic compounds, the most volatile of which begin to evaporate around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Many cannabis connoisseurs prize the smell and terpene profile of their favorite cannabis strains. So, how long does the smell of weed last? According to cannabis experts, properly cured cannabis flower (like you would purchase in a dispensary) will remain stable in terms of flavor and terpene profile for at least one year. Of course, if you store cannabis in improper storage conditions such that it is exposed to sunlight or air, the terpenes won’t last that long. Old cannabis that has lost its flavor profile often has the harsh taste of burning plant matter without the fruity, pungent notes provided by the terpenes.
To ensure that your cannabis stays fresh for as long as possible, it is best to store cannabis in a mason jar or another glass container that can be sealed and made airtight. Keep the jar in a dark area like a drawer or a closet to prevent sunlight from reaching it. Alternately, you could purchase a specially designed weed compartment that will protect your stash from light or air. What about the plastic containers that many dispensaries use to sell cannabis flower—should you keep your weed in those? According to weed storage experts, plastic containers allow more air exposure than a sealed glass jar, so experts recommend using airtight glass jars if you plan on storing your cannabis for a long time. Additionally, plastic has static electricity that can disrupt the trichomes and cause a minor loss of potency. While your instinct may be to put your mason jar in your freezer, storing your weed in the freezer will negatively impact the potency of your weed and may increase your risk of mold.
According to the experts, if you put bud in the freezer, it allows for increased moisture in the bud as every time you open the freezer door there will be fluctuations in humidity and moisture levels. Moist weed can mold, and moldy weed can be unsafe to smoke. Additionally, the freezing temperatures will cause the trichomes to fall off the flower. That is why ice is used when making bubble hash, to cool the plant matter and make it easier for the trichomes to fall off. Experts recommend keeping your cannabis in a cool environment that is less than 77 degrees Fahrenheit. If your cannabis is kept in heat, for example in an attic that reaches 90 degrees, your weed may lose some of its flavor profile as the most volatile terpenes will evaporate.
While a healthy adult is unlikely to get sick from smoking moldy weed, individuals with compromised immune systems could get sick and even die due to inhaling smoke or vapor containing bacteria or fungi. As a result, it is important to inspect your cannabis flower for signs of mold before consuming it. What does mold on weed look like? It looks like dense grey cobwebs on the cannabis flower. If you suspect there may be mold, use a magnifying glass to carefully inspect your flower. Another useful trick to determine if your weed is contaminated with mold is to shine a black light on your marijuana. Mold will appear green under a black light. We hope this article answers your question, “Does weed go bad?” To answer all of your other cannabis-related questions, explore our Wellness Center.
Jointly is a new cannabis wellness app that can help you track and optimize the 15 factors that can impact your cannabis experience. These 15 factors include your dose, the time of day that you consume cannabis, your wellness goals, how much sleep you got the night before, and more. Curious about tracking and optimizing how you use cannabis and CBD? Download the Jointly app on the App Store or the Google Play Store to get started on your cannabis wellness journey.