Before we get to the answer, here are some storage tips to give your weed a fighting chance against the ravages of time. Store weed in glass or stainless steel, keep temps ~70*F. Humidity should be consistent in the jar, so open it as little as possible if the weed is properly cured. Properly cured weed is a whole other subject on its own, but if your weed smells and looks incredible, it was most likely properly cured. I think everyone has gotten wet weed. Certainly growers love to sell it heavy. Oftentimes wet weed was simply dried and not cured, an easy way to rush to sale. Wet weed needs to be “belched”, releasing the moisture from the jar, until the ammonia smell becomes more of a great weed smell. Certainly you know what great weed smells like. No I can’t describe it because Tangie is different than say GG#5, but you get it! Properly cured buds need to just be stored. Dry bud is usable but non-ideal. Now to the question at hand…
How Long Does Weed Stay “Good?”
Well, I’d be surprised if it makes it past 4:20 at my house (rimshot), but under ideal storage conditions, cannabis can stay relatively fresh for a surprisingly long time. If properly harvested, dried, cured, and then stored, you can expect your stash to stay dank for anywhere from six months to a year. If you’ve done an exceptionally good job of storing your bud, and your weed was properly dried and cured, you may be able to stretch that to the point of approaching two years plus.
For most weed smokers, storage conditions are less than ideal. I’m not naming and shaming, but you know who you are. In the absence of humidity controlled rooms or containers, add the degradation from light and inconsistent temperatures, don’t expect to get a full year out of your weed. In general, try to enjoy all your herb within six months of purchasing it. Of course, if done correctly, then you can push it out to the year mark. If you’re a wook with a sandwich bag, just smoke it man, don’t save it.
Bonus tip: Never, ever use something like orange peels in your jar regardless of what your homie says. That’s a great way to mold out your stash. I have friends who tried to rehydrate two ounces using orange peels and opened their jar one day to find stringy white mold strands. Not cool. It was all garbage.
What does “weed going bad,” even mean? Surely we’ve all enjoyed some herb that was a little past the prime. Well, many of the terpenes present in cannabis slowly degrade and lose their effectiveness over time. Your bud loses taste and aroma as the terpenes degrade, and as a result, stale bud loses the unique, stanky aroma that top shelf flower is known for. Old flower may taste like hay, but so does poorly cured fresh buds. In any case, your marijuana won’t taste or smell as it did once the terpenes have left the building.
Similar to the terps, and arguably more important, the cannabinoids degrade over time. Because a significant amount of the THC will have broken down and disappeared, old MJ won’t be as strong. This can turn your AAA, top shelf into something a little more humble.
If you want the science, UNODC (United Nation Office of Drugs and Crime) published a study in 1999 with the catchy title “CBN and D9-THC concentration ratio as an indicator of the age of stored marijuana samples.” In this study they find that weed loses ~16% of its THC in the first year, 26% in 2 years, and increasingly more each year after. Consider your super fire headstash.
Let’s assume a THC percentage of 20. Now I know you’re thinking “Broski I don’t smoke anything under 32% because all I chief is fire.” Awesome. I just want a round number. After a year your 20% bud will now be 16.8%. Less than ideal. Given that your terpene will likely degrade at a similar or faster rate, it will also taste and smell worse. What’s even less ideal is that we know terpenes modulate your high, ie the smell of your weed changes the effects of your weed. It stands to reason, the more terpenes you lose, the more dull the buzz. The reason weed smells so strong is because these terps are volatile and break down. That’s what you smell, a chain of molecules breaking down and floating away, molecules that could help get you high.
A few things to look for to tell if your weed is old and degraded. First off, any mold or mildew means it’s done. Throw that crap out. Don’t hurt yourself. Overly dry and crumbly weed that smells like hay, may just be old. That’s a personal choice on quality you’re willing to consume. A good option for safe, but old weed is edibles. Look up a butter recipe and make yourself some cookies.
Keep your bud fresh with these storage systems here:
By Richard “Dick” Weed, Guest Contributor for Potsmart