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does marijuana lose its potency over time

How to Tell If Cannabis Is Past Its Prime

Weed doesn’t go bad the way a jar of mayo or some other food product might, but it can definitely be “off” or even moldy.

Old weed likely won’t lead to any serious health issues if you don’t have any underlying conditions.

It can, however, have a noticeable drop in potency, which can be a big deal if you’re using it for medical purposes. Older weed can also undergo changes in taste and texture.

When stored properly (more on this later), dried cannabis keeps for 6 months to 1 year. Over time, it begins to lose its aroma and potency.

According to some older research, weed loses roughly 16 percent of its THC after 1 year, and it just keeps dropping from there:

  • 26 percent THC lost after 2 years
  • 34 percent THC lost after 3 years
  • 41 percent THC lost after 4 years

It’s mostly in the smell. Weed that’s past its prime will smell different or lose its aroma entirely. Some weed might even smell and taste harsh when it’s been sitting too long.

Its appearance can also give you a clue as to whether or not it’s old. Fresh weed shouldn’t crumble or feel spongy when you break it off. If it does, it’s old and either too dry or too moist.

Consuming it shouldn’t harm you, but be prepared for changes in texture and potency. The exception is weed that’s grown mold, which could potentially make you sick.

Mold is often hard to see unless you look very closely. It typically looks like white powdery or fuzzy spots, some of which can be pretty small.

Moldy weed usually smells musty, kind of like hay. It also tends to have a bit of an “off” taste.

Even if your weed isn’t super old, it’s best to do a mold inspection. A study by researchers from University of California, Davis found bacteria and mold on 20 cannabis samples bought from dispensaries and pot growers in Northern California.

Mold on weed isn’t likely to cause major health problems, but it can lead to nausea, vomiting, and coughing.

In people with weakened immune systems, inhaling smoke or vapors from weed containing bacteria or fungi could cause serious illness or even death.

If it looks or smells off, then you’re better off tossing it, even if you just bought it.

Light, humidity, temperature, and oxygen can all mess with cannabis and affect its aroma, taste, and potency potential.

Here’s what to consider when storing weed to help keep it fresh and maintain its quality for as long as possible.

Choose the right container

Ditch plastic baggies and containers. Plastic holds static that can affect delicate trichomes — the tiny, crystal-like hairs on flowers that produce cannabinoids and terpenes — and mess with potency.

And forget those funny little tins, too, because they let in too much oxygen.

Glass jars with an airtight seal, like mason jars, are the way to go. They don’t have any static charge and limit oxygen exposure. Plus, they’re inexpensive and easy to find.

Most dispensaries also sell containers designed to keep weed fresh for as long as possible.

If you have kids or pets in your household, invest in a child- and pet-proof container.

Watch the humidity

Weed is best kept at a relative humidity of 59 to 63 percent. Any higher and you run the risk of trapping moisture, which can lead to the growth of mold. Anything lower can cause your weed to dry out.

To help you preserve your stash, you can add humidity packs to your containers if you really want to get fancy. You can also go the extra mile and store your weed in a humidor made specifically for cannabis.

Keep it cool, dark, and dry

Keeping weed in a cool and dry spot away from sunlight is as important as the container you use, if not more so.

Direct sunlight can cause cannabis to break down, and too much heat can hold moisture and lead to mold.

Keeping it somewhere too chilly, on the other hand, could dry it out and lose those precious trichomes, which is why the fridge and freezer aren’t recommended.

Aim to store cannabis in a dark place, like a closet or cabinet, with a temperature below 77°F (25°C).

Weed doesn't go bad in the way perishable food does, but it can definitely degrade over time. Here's what to look for.

Does Weed Go Bad & How Long Does it Last?

It’s a classic scenario: you’re out of bud and in your frantic search for more you discover a long-forgotten baggie of flower somewhere in the back of your closet. You’re excited about your find. But wait: how long does weed last? How long is weed good for? Can you still smoke that old, dried out marijuana? How long does weed stay good, and what happens if you smoke weed that isn’t fresh? This guide has all the information you need.

How Long Does Weed Stay Good: The Basics

Let’s get to the heart of the matter. How long is weed good for? Under ideal storage conditions, cannabis can actually stay relatively fresh for a surprisingly long time.

If it’s been properly harvested, dried, cured, and then stored, you can expect your weed to stay fresh for anywhere from six months to a year.

If you’ve done an exceptionally good job of storing your bud, and you’re a little bit lucky, you may be able to stretch that timeline even further. Possibly to the point of approaching two years.

But for most weed smokers, conditions are less than ideal. In the absence of humidity controlled storage containers, and assuming that your weed will encounter some degree of light and the temperature might be less than perfect, don’t expect to get a full year out of your weed.

So how long does weed last? In general, try to consume all your weed within six months of purchasing it. But, of course, if you’ve invested in high-quality storage equipment, then you can push it out to the year mark.

How Long Is Weed Good For: The Scientific Answer

Now that you have a general idea for how long does weed last, let’s get into the more scientific answer. First, it’s important to understand what actually happens to marijuana as it ages.

Essentially, all the chemicals that make marijuana special break down. Over time, many of the cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis slowly break down and lose potency.

As the terpenes break down, your bud loses flavor and scent. As a result, old bud is relatively tasteless and lacks that distinctive, sharp odor that fresh weed is supposed to have. Sometimes, old weed will end up tasting harsh and nasty. Either way, when the terpenes have broken down, your weed won’t taste or smell the way it’s supposed to.

Similarly, and probably more importantly, cannabinoids also break down over time. Old, worn out bud won’t be as potent because a lot of the THC will have broken down and dissipated.

And here’s where we can get very precise with figuring out how long is weed good for. Fortunately, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has looked into things for us.

Their researchers found that, on average, cannabis plant matter loses THC potency at this rate:

  • After one year, weed loses roughly 16% of its THC.
  • Two years in storage results in a loss of 26% of its THC.
  • Weed loses 34% of its THC after three years.
  • After four years in storage, weed loses 41% of its THC.

How Long Does Weed Last: Is Your Weed Bad?

Let’s return to that old bag of weed you found at the back of your closet. How do you know if it’s bad? Basically, you’re looking for a few things:

  • Is it moldy? If your weed was too moist or humid, it may develop mold. Do not smoke moldy weed!
  • Is it dried out? If your bud has crumbled into dust, it’s obviously too old.
  • Does it smell fresh? Old marijuana lacks the crisp scent of fresh weed.
  • Does it break apart? If it’s spongy and doesn’t make any sounds when you pull apart a nug, it might be damp and moldy. If it instantly breaks down into dry dust, it’s too old.

How Long Does Weed Stay Good For?

If you determine that your weed has gone bad, it’s not the end of the world. Technically speaking, you can still smoke it. It just won’t taste very good. And since most of the cannabinoids have probably already broken down you probably won’t get very high.

But smoking old weed won’t kill you or make you sick. The only exception is moldy marijuana. If your flowers have encountered too much moisture they might get moldy.

If you see discolored spots, white fuzzy mold, or if it smells like anything other than cannabis, don’t mess with it. Smoking or otherwise ingesting mold can definitely make you sick or worse, so steer clear.

Now that you know the answer to the question, how long does weed stay good, what should you do to keep it fresh? To preserve your bud for as long as possible, practice proper storage techniques.

Try your best to control temperature and humidity. Keep it away from direct sunlight, and store it in a cool, dry, dark location. With a little bit of care and some basic equipment, you can get the most of your bud.

So, Does Weed Go Bad?

Yes, weed goes bad. In fact, there are a couple different ways it can go bad. On one hand, if your weed sits unused for too long, or you leave it exposed to too much light or open air, it will simply dry out and turn into dusty, crumbly, ineffective flower. On the other hand, if your weed is exposed to too much humidity or other contaminants it could go moldy. And you do not want to inhale mold smoke. Doing so can make you sick.

Beyond the possibility of getting sick from bad weed, keeping your weed fresh will give you a better product and a better cannabis experience. The longer cannabis is exposed to environmental factors such as light and air, the more the cannabinoids and terpenes deteriorate. So if you want weed that will taste and smell great, while getting you super high, take care of your bud the right way.

How to Keep Weed Fresh for Longer

Different cannabis products have slightly different needs if you want to keep them fresh and potent. Here’s a quick breakdown of how to keep different cannabis products fresher for longer:

Flower

To keep flower fresh, you need to store it properly. This includes limiting exposure to light and open air, and maintaining a proper humidity level, typically somewhere in the range of 54 percent to 63 percent.

To accomplish all this, store your bud in either a small glass Mason jar or a container designed specifically for marijuana. Keep the lid on tight, don’t open it very often, and keep it in a cool dark place.

And for humidity control, you can either toss in a humidity control pack—check out Boveda, Integra BOOST, or a similar product—or if you want to step up your game to pro level, you can store your weed in a dedicated cannabis humidor such as the Apothecarry, Cannador, or another similar product.

Edibles

To keep edibles fresh, leave them in their original package and store them in a place that’s away from open air and direct light. Be sure they’re in a cool location, as many types of edibles—especially things like hard candies and gummies—can easily melt.

Concentrates

The best way to keep your concentrates fresh and potent is to store them in small containers designed specifically for dabs. These are typically made out of glass, silicone, or a similar material. Keep the lids on tight and store the containers in a cool, dark place.

Vape Pens

As with any other cannabis product, it’s best to keep your vape pens away from direct light. Because the cannabis oil is already inside an airtight cartridge you don’t really need to worry about humidity or exposure to air. As a final tip, store your vape pen standing upright, as this will keep all the oil at the bottom of the cartridge, ready for immediate use.

At some point, most weed smokers find themselves asking, how long does weed last? ]]>