How long is marijuana good for?
Saturday, January 11th, 2020
Just like many of our past blogs, this one was inspired by the questions that come from you, our clientele, because those are the questions that matter. And more than one of you have asked how long marijuana can be stored, so it’s time to answer that question as well, but it’s not as easy as you might think because the way marijuana is stored determines how long it’ll last. So, we’ll get into that, but we’ll also talk about edibles and hashes and vape oil, because it’s all different, and it’s all important; let’s get started.
Marijuana is a plant, plain and simple, and people seem to forget this fact because most plants don’t get you high. If you treat marijuana like a plant, and think of it that way, you’ll be able to figure most of this out on your own. For instance, would you put lettuce in the freezer to keep it fresh? No? Well, you shouldn’t do so with cannabis either. For one, freezing plant mater makes any amount of moisture within expand, and that causes the plant cells to burst, which is no good. And secondly, even if you use the refrigerator instead of the freezer, the fluctuating temperatures and moisture levels in your fridge will screw things up as well, so don’t do it. Ever. Instead, store your flower in a cool, dry, dark place.
As to the “cool” part, most plant-destroying molds love warm temperatures, so unless you like smoking fungus, I’d recommend keeping your pot someplace in the sixty-degree range. As to the “dry” part, it’s self-explanatory: wet places are moldy places, so it wouldn’t make much sense to go through the effort of finding a cool place to avoid mold just to encounter the same problem thanks to moisture. So, store your flower in an air-tight container. Glass is always best because plastic can make your pot taste funky, and it creates a static charge that can attract trichome heads. If the trichome heads get stuck in a plastic container, it’ll make your pot less potent, and nobody wants that. Now, if you’re a pot pro and you’re looking for the perfect amount of relative humidity, I’ve found that the zone between 58% and 64% RH is perfect. To achieve this, you can either buy a hydrometer to measure the humidity within your glass jar (which is superfluous), or you can simply buy a two-way humidity control pack. All these control packs are designed to produce a specific RH level within a small space, so all you need to do is find a pack that’s within the 58%-64% RH range, and then drop it into the glass jar with your flower. If it gets too humid, the pack will absorb moisture, and if it gets too dry, it’ll humidify your jar; that’s why they’re called “two-way” packs. We sell these packs in our Durango dispensary, or you can buy them online HERE.
Alright… if you’ve been paying attention, we’ve discovered that your pot needs to be stored someplace cool and dry, preferably in a glass jar. That just leaves us with the “dark” part, and since most glass jars are transparent, you’ll need to put said jar in a dark place, because believe it or not, light (UV rays specifically) is the biggest thing that leads to cannabinoid degradation. In cannabis, it’s the THC that gets you high, as I’m sure you already know, but UV rays can and will degrade THC into CBN, which will make you super sleepy if you smoke it, and that’s thoroughly disappointing when you’re trying to get high. And yes, everything I’m saying is backed by science—there’s even a peer-reviewed study that you can read HERE proving that light is the enemy of cannabinoids.
However, all this being said, the answer to the question “how long is my cannabis good for?” hasn’t been answered, and that’s because there’s not really a good answer. Theoretically, if you store your pot per my instructions, it could be good for quite some time; maybe even more than a year or so. But time itself also degrades cannabinoids, so your guess is as good as mine (unless you’re a chemist, in which case your guess is better). Worst case scenario, if you smoke old, well-preserved flower, it could be harsh and it might not get you that high, but your head won’t explode, so a least there’s that.
Let’s move on to vape oils. The state of Colorado requires a listed expiration date for most non-flower cannabis products, but this isn’t the case for vape oils because they have an awesome shelf-life. If you follow for vape oils the same storage guidelines for flower, you’ll be off to a good start, but there’s something else you need to worry about: oxygen. For instance, if you have an old distillate cartridge laying around the house, take a close look a it. You’ll most likely see a dark brown layer of oil sitting on top of the lighter yellow distillate. That dark-brown oil has simply oxidized because it was at the top where the oxygen within your cartridge touches the distillate; the cannabinoids within have degraded just like they do in plant material. If you let it get too far, the THC will turn into sleepy CBN, and you’ll be disappointed. So, if you plan on storing vape oil long-term, do so in an anerobic environment such as a vacuum sealed bag, and then keep the bag in a cool, dry, dark place. Problem solved.
Now, unlike vape oils or flower, Colorado requires that all edibles be marked with a regulated expiration or “best by” date (or sometimes, it’ll say “use of freeze by”). Please pay attention to these dates—just like you would when shopping for milk, check the date on any container you’re about to buy. Our dispensary in Durango is one of the most compliant in the state, and it’s noncompliant to sell an expired edible so you’ll never find one here, but I’m not delusional enough to think that you’ll only shop at The Greenery for the rest of your life, so when you’re in a lesser shop, check the expiration dates so you don’t get unlucky.
All that being said, fresh pot is always better than well-stored old pot, so if you’d like to avoid the hassle completely, simply buy only what you need for short periods of time as opposed to buying in bulk. That’s how I roll, and it’s always served me well. And since we grow our cannabis in small crops, and since we order our edibles and vape cartridges in small batches, literally everything in our dispensary is fresh and new. And that’s how we roll, because We’re Your Best Buds!