Lifestyle

The Shelf Life of Cannabis: How Long Does It Stay Good?

August 4, 2022 08:00 am ET
The Shelf Life of Cannabis: How Long Does It Stay Good?

Cannabis, like any plant or herb stored and used for consumption, has a shelf life. This means that cannabis can go bad, get moldy, and lose potency when stored improperly or simply from age.

When cannabis is stored properly, it can last anywhere from six months to a year depending on your storage equipment and conditions. Whether you’re concerned about your product losing potency or the health risks of consuming moldy cannabis, learning how to store cannabis correctly is a good investment in your time. You’ll be healthier in the long run and save money by maintaining your cannabis products’ potency and freshness.

  1. How Long Does Cannabis Stay Good?
  2. Can Cannabis Go Bad?
  3. Best Ways to Store Cannabis for Freshness
    1. Flower
    2. Edibles
    3. Concentrates
  4. Final Takeaway


How Long Does Cannabis Stay Good?

There are several factors that contribute to cannabis going bad. According to a 2011 study, exposure to light (not direct sunlight) is the single most important factor in cannabinoid (e.g., THC) loss. Additionally, exposure to oxygen, temperature variations, and humidity contribute to cannabis losing potency or growing mold.

A study conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in the late 1990s explored how the concentration of the cannabinoids CBN and THC—the cannabinoid known for its psychoactive properties—in dry cannabis samples act as an indicator of how long cannabis is stored. According to this study, cannabis plant matter (flower) loses THC potency at the average rate of:

  • 1 year—16.6% potency lost
  • 2 years—26.8% potency lost
  • 3 years—34.5% potency lost
  • 4 years—41.4% potency lost


Perhaps you’ve decided to invest in the proper storage equipment and are committed to keeping your cannabis products fresher for longer. Just how long does cannabis last when stored properly?

When stored properly, cannabis products can last up to a year. Typically, though, you should only stretch your products to this one-year mark if you are storing them with high-quality, professional storage equipment. Ideally, a consumer should aim to finish cannabis flower or other cannabis products six months after purchasing them from the dispensary.

Can Cannabis Go Bad?

Yes, cannabis goes bad. While this mostly applies to flower, edibles and concentrates can also become less than ideal for consumption over time.

On one end of the spectrum, cannabis flower can dry out and become crumbly when handled. This is a telltale sign that it is old cannabis and is past its prime. Another way to detect old cannabis is the smell test. Does it emit a strong, sharp scent usually caused by the presence of terpenes in the plant matter, or is the smell faint or nonexistent? The latter could be a sign of dwindling shelf life.

If your cannabis flower appears spongy and doesn’t make any snapping sounds when pulled apart, it could be moldy—especially if it was exposed to damp or humid conditions. Take a look at this post for more pointers on identifying moldy cannabis flower.

Best Ways to Store Cannabis for Freshness

Let’s get into the weeds on how to store cannabis. There are four factors that you need to pay close attention to when you’re storing cannabis: exposure to oxygen, exposure to light, humidity levels, and temperature.

You want to store your cannabis products in an airtight container in a dark, dry place. This will help you avoid staleness by keeping your products fresh longer. It can also help control exposure to high humidity levels, thus helping to prevent your cannabis from growing mold or mildew. It’s also very important to keep cannabis products out of extreme temperatures: Extreme cold can slow down the decarboxylation process, and extreme heat can dry out your product quicker.

Here are some tips for storing various kinds of cannabis products.

Flower

When it comes to short-term storage, it’s generally fine to keep your cannabis flower in whatever container it came in for up to a week. To store it any longer, though, ditch your plastic baggie and store it in an airtight glass jar with a seal (e.g., a mason jar). If you‘re looking at long-term storage, avoid plastic bags or containers entirely, as these can contaminate your product since plastic creates a static charge that attracts trichomes.

Humidity control is also very important for long-term storage. Buying humidor packets to help maintain optimal humidity levels is your best bet. You can purchase humidity packs in quantities of 20 for around $15 USD from major retailers like Amazon.

Keeping your airtight container in a moderately cool, dark place will also prevent the loss of terpenes or cannabinoids. Do not refrigerate your cannabis flower; this can create conditions conducive to mold and mildew. Additionally, do not freeze your cannabis flower—this can cause trichomes to become brittle and break off from the flower.

You can learn more about storing cannabis flower in this post: How to Properly Store Cannabis Flower So That It Lasts

Edibles

The rules for storing edibles are similar to storing cannabis flower with a couple of distinctions. Store your edibles in an airtight container to keep them from being exposed to oxygen. Keep them away from light sources in a dark place to prolong the shelf life.

Unlike cannabis flower storage, you may store homemade edibles in the refrigerator or freezer for long-term storage. Edibles purchased at a dispensary are fine to be left in their containers as long as they are not exposed to heat sources, light, or oxygen. Cannabis-infused drinks should be refrigerated after they’re opened.

Tinctures should be treated just like edibles. Store them in a cool, dark spot, such as a cabinet or drawer. You can also keep alcohol-based tinctures in the freezer. If you made your own cannabis tincture, make sure to put it in a glass container (amber or opaque is best to minimize light exposure).

Check out this article for more information on storing edibles: Do Cannabis Edibles Expire? Tips for Maximizing Freshness and Potency

Concentrates

For short-term storage, keep your cannabis concentrates (i.e., dabs) in parchment paper and keep the parchment paper in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. For long-term storage, keep your concentrates in the freezer, but be sure to use a vacuum seal bag to minimize the risk of your concentrates being exposed to moisture.

Final Takeaway

To recap, keep your cannabis products in airtight containers to minimize exposure to oxygen and moisture. You should also keep your stored products in a dark place away from heat sources in order to maintain the potency and freshness of your products.

Want more information about cannabis storage methods? Book a consultation with a cannabis coach to get all of your questions answered.

Post Your Comments

Donald Lewis says:

August 9, 2022 at 8:31 am

Because of the hot weather, I can only store my edibles and herbs in the fridge. How long will it last?

Reply
Veriheal Banner Ad 1_300 x 250
{"post_type":"post","post_status":"publish","posts_per_page":3,"post__not_in":[23353,16444,22498,24607,25184,23737,24614,24581,24182,24180,24408,24163]}

Latest News

December 6, 2022
This Study Suggests Avoiding Cannabis Before Surgery to Avoid Increased Postoperative Pain

Cannabis is well-known for its analgesic (i.e., pain-relieving) benefits associated with many different conditions and illnesses. It is often prescribed to patients…

December 5, 2022
The Lessons Learned When a Company Overstated Products’ THC Potency

For quite some time now, there have been complaints concerning the potency of cannabis products. Most of the time, the concerns have…

December 1, 2022
Is Congress Closer to Reforming the Cannabis Industry’s Access to Financial Services?

Historically, it has been difficult for cannabis-related businesses to access reliable financial services due to its illegal federal status. Many people wonder…