Ask a Budtender: Is Cannabis Covered by Health Insurance?
by Haley Hansen
Whether you are an occasional toker or a seasoned grower, chances are you have wondered if you were storing your cannabis correctly. When it comes to storing cannabis, there are many things that you need to consider, and it’s essential to know what factors make a difference. Let’s take a look at these aspects in more detail, starting with the importance of why you should store your medical marijuana properly, as well as elements that can wreak havoc on your stash.
So you know that you need to store your cannabis flower correctly, but why? If not stored properly, your stash will be exposed to elements such as high or low humidity, extreme temperatures, light, or air; all of which can cause the quality, potency, and flavor of your flower to deplete over time.
While there isn’t per se an expiration date on marijuana flower, it will decrease in quality if not stored properly. If stored correctly, flower can remain stable for long periods of time. How long does cannabis flower last? Research published in 1976 in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology shows that cannabinoids can remain stable with a shelf life of up to 2 years if the cannabis is properly cured for at least four weeks and kept in an optimal storage environment. Too hot or too cold of temperatures as well as humidity can also cause issues during storage, such as mold and mildew.
The golden rule is to always store cannabis in a cool, dark, and dry place. However, how dry, how dark, and how cool is key to success. Let’s take a look at the sweet spots when it comes to elements that most affect your marijuana buds and nugs—humidity, temperature, air, and light.
Storing flower at high temperatures can cause your terpenes to diminish and your buds to dry out. This can create a very unpleasant flavor as well as a harsh consumption experience. Alternately, storing your stash at too low of a temperature can also cause degradation of terpenes and cannabinoid content.
It is recommended to store marijuana at temperatures below 74 degrees as mold and mildew thrive at temperatures that surpass that threshold. The ideal temperature is approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit but no less than 55 degrees.
While cannabis plants thrive on light during the various growth stages, UV rays can degrade your flower after harvesting quicker than anything. To avoid losing valuable terpene and cannabinoid content during storage, it is recommended to keep your stash away from a direct light source. If you are unable to store your container in a dark environment, it is recommended to use opaque containers or to cover any areas on the container where light may enter with stickers or tape.
High levels of oxygen can accelerate the degradation of cannabinoids and terpenes. A common question that many consumers and patients have is, “Does cannabis lose potency if it dries out?” The answer is yes. When bud is exposed to air, it begins to dry out and oxygen begins to degrade the terpenes, cannabinoids, and other phytonutrients that are present in the plant material. To protect your stash from excessive amounts of air, keep it in an airtight container. Exposure to air and light results in THCA slowing converting into THC and then into CBN, which is known for helping with sleep.
Maintaining the proper humidity levels when storing cannabis is vital. High humidity can become breeding grounds for mold and mildew, and lower humidity can result in your bud drying out and degradation of cannabinoids and terpenes. When it comes to relative humidity, it is recommended to maintain an RH between 54 and 63%. This is easier than ever with products on the market like Boveda humidity packs that can be placed directly inside your chosen storage container.
Different patients and consumers may have drastically different ideas about what “gone bad” looks like when it comes to marijuana flower. For some, it has technically “gone bad” as soon as it starts to degrade in quality and lose terpene and cannabinoid potency. For others, it hasn’t “gone bad” until it is moldy.
In general though, it is easy to tell when your stash has bit the dust. This can typically be seen in the look of the bud as well as the feel, smell, taste, and potency. If it is dry and dusty, shows signs of mold or mildew, or has been in storage for several years in a non-airtight container or plastic bag, chances are your stash has gone bad.
Check out this post for more information: The Shelf Life of Cannabis: How Long Does It Stay Good?
While there is no such thing as the perfect storage container for cannabis, there are some that are more optimal than others. Some of these options are meant to be for temporary storage, while others can accommodate both long-term and short-term storage. Some of these options also offer the bonus of being smell-proof! Let’s take a closer look at the best containers for storing cannabis.
Glass jars are some of the most popular containers for storing dried flower for a few different reasons. Mason jars are made of glass and have a metal lid that offers a complete seal, making them airtight. Seeing how mason jars are made of glass and are clear, there is the risk of light degradation; so when storing flower in glass jars, it is advised to ensure that you do so within a dark place. Storing in glass is also more optimal for maintaining humidity and temperatures during storage.
Let’s face it, sometimes all you have is a tight-sealing plastic bag. While this is not optimal in any way, shape, or form, it is much better than simply leaving your stash completely exposed to the elements. If you must temporarily store your cannabis in baggies, ensure that the seal is tight and that you do not agitate the content of the bag as much as possible to lessen the risk of static electricity wreaking havoc on your buds. Some choose to vacuum seal their plastic bags, but be sure that the plastic is safe and does not contain BPA. Also, try to store the bag in a dark, cool environment and not in your pocket, and most importantly, change storage mediums as soon as possible for long-term storage!
If you have a little cash to spend on storing your stash, you may also consider purchasing a cannabis humidor. A humidor is a humidity-controlled box utilized for storing cigars, cigarettes, pipe tobacco, or in this case, dried marijuana. Only use humidors specifically designed for cannabis; otherwise, the wood they are made with can jeopardize the flavor of your flower. The Cannador is a humidor that is designed to preserve and store small amounts of up to 4 different cannabis strains.
As a general rule, many consumers stay away from metal containers, especially for long-term storage. This is because metals can drastically change the taste of cannabis flower over time. For those that are not fans of glass containers, though, and are looking for containers that minimize light exposure, titanium jars are the next best choice. Titanium, unlike other metals such as aluminum or steel, will not alter the flavor of your flower while still protecting your stash.
The refrigerator and freezer should be avoided for dried flower storage for various reasons. The extreme freezing temperatures and increased humidity will cause your bud to freeze and become brittle. In the meantime, while this is slowly happening, the precious trichomes that cover the cannabis buds also begin to freeze and break off, resulting in less potent, less flavorful, and less effective medicine.
At this point, we hope that you are confident in how to properly store dried flower. But, have you ever stopped to wonder if a joint can go bad? Or if you should store edibles and tinctures in the refrigerator? These are great questions as well, and the proper storage of these products is just as essential as storing flower properly. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best practices for storing other cannabis products.
So, can a joint go bad? The answer is yes. Just like dried flower in storage can degrade in quality, flavor, and potency when exposed to elements like light, extreme temperatures, high humidity, and air, so can a rolled joint. This goes for both joints you roll at home, as well as pre-roll options available at many dispensaries today.
While most of us don’t roll up until we are ready to light up, sometimes we are proactive and decide to get prepared for the day by twisting up a few joints. In cases like this, it is crucial to store your joint in a container like a “doob tube” or another container like a PotPocket. Optimal storage for joints is very aligned with the proper storage recommendations for dried cannabis flower.
When it comes to infused foods and beverages, if it came refrigerated, keep it refrigerated. If it contains eggs, dairy, or other perishable ingredients, store it in the refrigerator. For edibles like gummies, you are typically safe storing them in their original container for short periods of time. However, to retain the most quality and flavor of cannabis edibles, it is recommended to store them in a cool environment within an airtight container. In the case of edibles, an airtight Tupperware container is more than sufficient for preserving quality and flavor.
Tinctures are one of the most shelf-stable cannabis products available on the market today. Many tinctures can be simply stored in a cool, dark environment within their original airtight containers without risk of degradation. Even when stored at room temperature and exposed to light, these products lose potency much slower than other products and can typically last several months without the storage environment being taken into consideration.
It is recommended to store cannabis concentrates in a glass container with an airtight seal. When not in use, it is also recommended by many to store your concentrates in the refrigerator to preserve flavor, potency, and consistency. A study published in 2019 found that THC in concentrated forms was better preserved when stored in the freezer. If you are unable to keep concentrates refrigerated, the next best option is to keep them in a dark, cool environment in an airtight glass container.
As you have learned, there are some dos and don’ts when it comes to storing flower and other cannabis products properly. Let’s recap. When it comes to flower, it is always recommended that whatever your cannabis storage medium is, that it is stored in a cool, dark environment. When it comes to the specific storage medium, glass containers with an airtight seal are highly recommended.
By storing cannabis in an airtight, glass container in a cool, dark environment, you drastically lower the risk of degradation to your cannabinoids and terpenes as you are avoiding exposure to extreme temperatures, air, light, and humidity. All of these aspects, as we have learned, can wreak havoc on the potency and flavor of cannabis. So next time you get ready to store your stash, remember these tips and be sure to share them with others!
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