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Does Weed Expire? Yes and Here’s How to Keep it Fresh for Longer

Francis Cassidy
does weed expire might be what this person holding a cannabis bud is thinking

Cannabis doesn’t age like a fine wine, so here are tips to extend its shelf life.

It doesn’t have a “best before” date, but weed does expire. Still, by following a few simple tips, cannabis can last for a surprising amount of time. In fact, some say a year is cannabis’ best before.

What Does One Do When Weed is Going To Expire?

Cannabis that’s too dry or too wet creates problems. Too dry, and it produces a harsh smoke devoid of flavor and health benefits plus it irritates the throat. Too moist, and it won’t burn well and may become moldy while in storage.

It should be noted that if cannabis is already moldy, throw it out. It’s just not worth consuming. A scientific study published by the American College of Chest Physicians (1978), delved into the effects of smoking moldy cannabis. Researchers found that it causes bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, a condition known to exaggerate the response of the immune system.

Left to its own devices without excess humidity, cannabis will degrade. THC gradually breaks down into a minor cannabinoid known as CBN (cannabinol). This cannabinoid has a different high to THC, which, among other things, may act as a good sedative for a full night’s sleep.

And just as THC degrades, so too does the terpene content. The medicinal value they provide is lost as the cannabis dries out.

What Causes Weed to Expire and Degrade?

In short, it’s one or more of the following: humidity, light, temperature, and oxygen.

Humidity can send cannabis in one of two directions. Too high and it allows mold spores to grow and proliferate, too low and the cannabis quickly dries out. Neither is an ideal solution, so keeping cannabis stored at a relative humidity of around sixty percent is optimal.

UV light is very destructive and breaks down the organic compounds within the potent trichomes. Never leave your cannabis in a plastic bag exposed to light, place it in a glass jar then into a dark cupboard.

Temperature also affects how cannabis degrades. So ideally, storing it at between sixty-eight to eighty-six degrees Fahrenheit prevents the common problem of THC quickly degrading to CBN.

As with many organic compounds, excess oxygen exposure will lead to the deterioration of cannabis. It robs the trichomes of many of those medicinal oils held within as the terpenes evaporate. To ensure that cannabis remains potent, store it in a vacuum or in a sealed container.

does weed expire might be what this person holding a cannabis bud is thinking

How to Tell if Cannabis is Past its Prime

Cannabis that’s past its best won’t necessarily smell bad. It just won’t smell like very much really. As cannabis degrades, so too does its potent scent, and this is due to the terpenes evaporating and degrading. Over time, that once potent aroma becomes nothing more than a stale whiff. Consumers should pay particular attention to any musty, mildew smells that indicate the presence of mold. If it comes to this, then toss it out, as there’s no rescuing it.

By visually inspecting the cannabis, it’s also possible to evaluate its condition. Mold is usually easily identified. Any sections of white on the trichomes are a warning sign. But bear in mind that mold can also penetrate the visible surface too. Simply break the nugs apart and inspect them visually to determine if mold lies within.

While mold forms when humidity levels are too high, the opposite causes cannabis to dry out. Old dried out cannabis breaks apart easily and disintegrates into a fine powder with the slightest touch. Quality cannabis buds should retain a little moisture. Feel them between your fingers. Are they overly compressed? Do they lack moisture content? If so, then it may be possible to revive them

How to Revive Dry Cannabis

Prevention is always the best medicine. And with a little care and attention, it’s surprisingly simple to keep cannabis fresh and potent for a considerable period. But for those with some already dried out buds and nothing better to smoke, here are three unique ways to rehydrate any cannabis that’s too dry.

The Fruit Peel Way

Orange rinds are one of the most effective ways to breathe some life back into dried out cannabis. Simply place the rinds in a ziplock bag or in a closed glass jar with the cannabis, and wait for one to four days for the process to complete. Orange rinds hold many of the essential oils that can also infuse a subtle fruity flavor into the dried cannabis.

It’s important to check the cannabis regularly. Too much time with the orange rinds and the excess moisture may cause mold to form.

does weed expire might be what this person checking a cannabis bud for mold is thinking

Humidity Packs: Keep Moisture Content in the Goldilocks Zone

Humidity packs are the easiest way to rehydrate cannabis or ensure that it doesn’t become dehydrated in the first place. Boveda is the market leader and offers humidity packs for a wide range of products, including solutions tailored for herbal products, like cannabis.

Designed to maintain a humidity of around sixty percent, humidity packs ensure that no matter the outside environment, the cannabis inside will not dry out. Widely used by online dispensaries, these humidity packs are incredibly easy to use. Simply drop a pack inside a glass jar with the cannabis, and let the humidity pack take care of preserving it. Unlike other forms of hydration, there’s no need to worry about how much time the humidity pack spends with the cannabis. It merely maintains the ideal humidity until you consume the cannabis.

An Electronic Solution: Cannabis Humidor

For those who prefer a hi-tech solution, there are cannabis humidors. Weed does not expire nearly as quickly in a proper humidor. Cannador leads the way when it comes to stylish humidors that can maintain product and quality or rehydrate dried out cannabis effectively.

Cannador offers seven different feature-packed designs of varying sizes, designed to maintain the freshness of your cannabis. Inside the protected wooden box made from mahogany, the electronics maintain the ideal humidity. Each one comes with a beveled case edge to provide a firm seal for complete insulation from the outside conditions.

Each design contains space for four to eight strains of cannabis, and some have a drawer underneath for other paraphernalia like grinders and pipes. And what’s more, some models even provide a Bluetooth connection to a phone for complete humidity control.

So, does weed expire? Well, left out on the countertop exposed to oxygen, UV light, and fluctuating humidity levels, it most certainly will. But with the tips mentioned above, it may be possible to maintain the quality of the cannabis or even revive it.

Francis Cassidy

Francis Cassidy is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics. With a particular focus on the cannabis industry, he aims to help ensure the smooth reintegration of cannabis back into global culture. When not writing, he's to be found exploring his new base in British Columbia, Canada. You can follow his other works including his photography on his blog thestrayphotographer.com

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