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How to Cure Cannabis: The Ultimate Guide

Matt Weeks
how to cure cannabis, medical cannabis, recreational cannabis, growing cannabis, cannabis, cured cannabis, dried cannabis, DIY, THC, cannabinoids

Do you know how to cure cannabis? It’s an important step for getting the most out of your home grown medicine.

So, good news: You’ve successfully grown a cannabis plant! The fruits of your labor, these precious, dank buds, are ready for harvest. It’s so close you can almost taste it. But there are a few more weeks to go before that. Gasp! It’s true. The last and most crucial step to enjoying your own creation is curing.

What is Curing?

Curing cannabis is akin to why meats are cured, meaning ‘properly prepared for later use’. Curing cannabis buds not only means the buds will last for a long time, but will also be tastier, easier to smoke, and possess a higher potency.

Snipping freshly grown buds off the stalk may seem like a good idea, but it ruins part of the maturation of the cannabinoids within the plant. THC, for example, only fully develops as other materials in the plant break down. Curing is the best way to ensure that the good stuff in cannabis, like THC and terpenes, meet their full potential.

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What Happens if I Don’t Cure My Cannabis?

If you don’t cure your cannabis, you’ll have moist, weak pot on your hands. That ruins your hard work of growing the plant and lessens the medicinal value. It also makes for a less pleasurable smoking experience. It may even cultivate mold early on, make your whole harvest ‘unsmokeable.’

How to Cure Cannabis: Step One

The curing process begins after you harvest your plant. The simplest way to do this is by hanging 12″ branches on a string or wire or even a drying rack. Remove any unnecessary leaves (not trimming yet). Whichever drying method you choose, the key is that the green material needs to be kept in a room that stays between 60 and 70 degrees, with a humidity of 45-55 percent.

A small fan should be installed to help push the air around, ensuring that all 360 degrees of the plant feel the drying process, equally.

You should invest in a dehumidifier that can measure and maintain the proper humidity.  Out of your price range? You can try this old school trick to estimate humidity using ice cubes. Plop four ice cubes into a glass of water and leave it in your grow/cure room for five minutes. If condensation forms on the outside of the glass, your room is too moist. If there’s no sign of condensation at all (even on the inside rim), there’s not enough water in the air (it’s too dry). I know… you should probably just invest in the hygrometer.

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How to Cure Cannabis: Step Two

After 1-2 weeks, the cannabis plants should be dry enough to move onto the next step. You can test readiness by gently bending the stems of your plants. If the stems break easily, you’re good to go. If these bend with a lot of give and do not snap, the stems are still full of moisture and need more drying time. You should start conducting this moisture test at day 6 so that you have good handle on what’s happening with moisture content because rehydrating is tricky and unreliable.

Your next step is called “sweating” and it’s the most time-intensive part of the process. But don’t fret — it’s totally worth it. This will be the difference between a smooth smoke and a harsh experience.

Next, Collect Your Buds

First, you’ll want to collect the buds from your hanging stalks or branches. Use gloves for hygiene and to keep the resin off your skin. Once you’ve got the buds off the stem, it’s time to trim off remaining leaves on the bud. That’s the longest part, so throw on some tunes and relax into a rhythm; it’s going to be awhile.

Next, place your beautifully trimmed buds into sealable glass containers. You want these containers to be close to air-tight and easy to open, so think mason pickle jars. A wide-mouthed jar will allow for maximum moisture exchange.

Set your containers, full of bud, into a cool, dark, but dry place and visit them 2-3 times a day to open and re-seal. People call this “burping.” You do this to remove the last bit of excess moisture while keeping the buds fresh. A good burp is about five minutes exposed to the air, long enough to let new air circulate around the buds. You’ll find something pretty cool after the first day or so – all of the crunchy is gone from the bud. This is because water is moving out from the center. If they are still crunchy, you’ve overdone the drying part.

If you smell something like ammonia or mold while you’re burping, it’s a sign that you started this step too early and the buds are too moist.  Bad. Don’t try to save moldy cannabis. It will only make you sick.

After two weeks, you can cut down your burping sessions to once a day and then gradually lessen it to a couple of times a week as you finish up the 2 to 8 week process (more on that below).

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How to Cure Cannabis: Finishing Up

After consistent ‘sweating’, your plants will be ready to smoke in two to three weeks. But, you can get even more flavor and potency by pushing things  six to eight weeks.

If you have the patience to wait two months for your buds to become perfectly ripe, your reward is a potent, smooth, flavorful, weed that will stay fresh longer.

Curing Is Not A Race

While it seems like curing is a time-intensive process, it’s worth it if you are going to use your bud to smoke. The flavor and cannabinoid makeup of weed changes as it dries, so the best stuff takes longer to make. All good things take time.

If you are going to making edibles, you can use the ‘fresh frozen‘ approach where you rough trim as they come off the plant and throw right in the freezer. These buds, however, will be unsuitable for smoking if you change you mind later.

Bottom line – curing ensures that your harvest will last as long as possible, saving you the hassle of starting over from scratch without an ounce to your name.

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Matt Weeks

A writer living and working in Athens, GA, Matt's work has appeared in various newspapers, books, magazines and online publications over the last 15 years. When he's not writing, he hosts bar trivia, plays in local bands, and makes a mean guacamole. He holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master's degree in organizational theory. His favorite movie is "Fletch."

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