What are the Best Ways to Store Marijuana & How Long is it Good For?
Believe it or not, there’s a right and a wrong way to store marijuana. Proper Storage Can Preserve Your Pot’s Potency For Years, While Incorrect Care Can Turn Your Fresh, Fragrant Grass Into A Mold-Ridden Mess.
One of the greatest pleasures of smoking weed is curating a collection of buds that reflect your personal preferences. But finding and buying the right buds is just part of the process—cannabis needs to be stored correctly to preserve its potency and fresh, fragrant flavor.
Just like a fine wine or whiskey, marijuana is best aged in a cool, dark and dry place. But, with the correct storage, how long is marijuana good for? Cannabis doesn’t have a strict expiration date. Although, by taking a few critical factors into consideration, your stash can remain fresh, fragrant and potent for up to two years.
How to Store Marijuana
Every cannabis connoisseur owes it to themselves to learn how to store marijuana properly. Below, you’ll find the four key factors that must be controlled to keep your pot in tip-top condition:
Light is the single biggest factor affecting the potency of marijuana
We all know that basking in the sun is harmful to human health. But did you know that UV-rays can damage plants too, including cannabis? Exposure to excess sunlight degrades organic matter over time. It’s the reason your grass turns brown after a long, hot summer.
According to a study from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in the 1970s, exposure to light is the single biggest factor affecting the potency of pot overtime. Exposure to light degrades cannabinoids, particularly THC and CBD. For example, in one study, cannabis stored in consistent daylight for four years lost 6% more THC than the same strains stored under dark conditions. According to most reports, cannabinoids can remain relatively stable for 1 to 2 years when stored under optimal conditions. Protecting your marijuana from direct sunlight also helps control the temperature.
Temperature – Marijuana stored too hot or cold can affect potency
Temperature plays a critical role in keeping marijuana fresh and true to its original form. Warm temperatures between 77°F and 86° F encourage the growth of mold and bacteria, while excessive heat can dry out your buds, evaporating the precious cannabinoids and terpenes that took so many months to develop. What’s more, the evaporation of these essential oils leads to a hot, harsh smoke with an unpleasant flavor.
Lower temperatures, on the other hand, hamper the process of cannabinoid decarboxylation—the conversion of THCA into the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. So make sure you prized pot maintains its potency and reaches its full potential by storing it in a cool, dark place, such as a cupboard in the basement. Storing marijuana within the freezer is not recommended, as freezing temperatures can hinder decarboxylation. Refrigerators should also be avoided due to the relatively high humidity of around 100%, which brings us to our next point.
Humidity – Minimize moisture
Moisture must be minimized to keep mildew and other molds at bay. Pot that’s contaminated produces bad odors and flavors, but it can also be detrimental for individuals using medical marijuana, especially if their immune system is already compromised. But, let your buds get too dry, and you risk losing trichomes—the tiny, crystal-like projections that cover your cannabis. These resin-filled appendages are responsible for producing and housing the very cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that make each strain so unique. To make things simple—you don’t want trichomes becoming brittle and breaking off. Without these, your marijuana is essentially useless.
Storing your cannabis at a relative humidity (RH) of between 59% and 63% will help protect the integrity of trichomes and maintain the color, consistency, and aroma of your bud. It can be a balancing act, especially for those who live in the tropics, but there are humidity control products, like IntegraBOOST, that can help maintain a relatively stable RH.
Air – Use vacuum-sealed or airtight containers
Cannabis plants need oxygen—and plenty of it—to thrive during the growing and curing phase. However, from that point onwards, air must be under tight control. Exposure to oxygen accelerates the degradation of cannabinoids through a process called oxidation. THC, in particular, breaks down into CBN, a less desirable cannabinoid with distinctively sedative effects.
The best way to prevent oxygen exposure is to use a vacuum seal. If you don’t have one handy, the next best option is an airtight storage container, preferably a glass jar. But pay close attention to the size. Even when there is no airflow, excess oxygen trapped within the container can contribute to the degradation of cannabinoids. So choose a container that comfortably fits your stash without being overcrowded. When there’s not enough air, you can run into problems with relative humidity, especially if your marijuana wasn’t entirely dry before storage.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Marijuana Storage
Keep your buds at their best with these do’s and don’ts:
Do – use containers with a neutral charge, such as a glass mason jar.
Do – minimize oxygen exposure by using vacuum-sealed jars and containers.
Do – store out of direct sunlight in a cool, dark, and dry place.
Do – use hygrometers to monitor and make minor adjustments to humidity levels.
Do – store strains in separate containers to preserve their distinct flavor profile.
Do – separate marijuana from pipes, grinders, and other paraphernalia. The smell of burnt cannabis tends to linger and will leave your storage container with less-than enticing odor.
Don’t – store in the freezer. Freezing temperatures damage delicate trichomes, thus degrading cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
Don’t – store in the refrigerator. The oscillations in temperature and humidity can increase the risk of mold and mildew.
Don’t – store within close proximity of electrical appliances that generate heat, such as stovetops, microwaves or toasters. Instead, choose a low cupboard away from any sources of latent heat that could dry out your precious pot.
Don’t – store with fruit rinds. Although it could rehydrate a dried out bud, placing fruits rinds into a jar will create too much moisture leading to moldy, non-smokable marijuana.
Don’t – store in plastic containers or bags for long-term usages. Plastic containers tend to promote moisture and have a static charge, which can attract trichomes.
How Long is Marijuana Good For?
Marijuana doesn’t have a strict expiration date. Although, generally speaking, your stash can remain fresh, fragrant, and potent for up to two years provided you consider the above recommendations.