Does weed go bad? Does weed expire? Here’s how long your marijuana will last
For theВ stoners who don’tВ burn through all their weed in a timely fashion вЂ” and those who get so high they forgot where they hid their stash вЂ” the same question arises: How long does weed last? DoesВ marijuanaВ go bad?В
Well, it depends what you mean by “bad.” The fact is, no matter what some bro on a message board told you, weed is never going to expire or rot quite the way milk and meat does. It’s also not going to get significantlyВ less potent or age like a fine wine if you hold onto it for a year. Even so, you might say that weed has something of an unspoken “bestВ usedВ by” date.
When you buy freshly cured marijuana,В there’s a little moisture to the buds that makes them springy and squishy. Over time, depending on how you store it, weed will either dry out or become too wet. Plastic sandwich bags can let moisture out, with the eventual result of weed thatВ crumblesВ and gives off harsh smoke. If you put your weed in the fridge or freezer, or leave it somewhere damp, it’s apt to grow mold вЂ” and it sure won’t burn well. Experts recommend keeping your stash in an airtight jar, at room temperature.
Naturally, desperate times call for desperate highs: Many peopleВ haveВ rolled up dry weed crumbsВ (known as “shake”) or scraped mold fromВ weed before packing it in their bong. That said, there’s nothing too pleasant about trying to get stoned either way вЂ” the taste will be awful, you’re probably going to cough a lotВ and accidentally smoking that mold can have some nasty consequences, including headaches, vomitingВ and diarrhea.В
All that is to say, if you find yourself questioning the age and freshness of your pot, do yourself a favor and just buy a new eighth.
For theВ stoners who don’tВ burn through all their weed in a timely fashion вЂ” and those who get so high they forgot where they hid their stash вЂ” the same question arises: How long does weed last? DoesВ marijuanaВ go bad?В Well, it depends what you meanвЂ¦
Reality check: Does pot have an expiry date?
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The Canadian government proposed last month that legal pot be sold in plain packaging that displays a slew of warnings and other information, including an expiry date. But does weed actually expire?
It depends on the cannabis you buy and how you store it.
As cannabis expert and Quebec brand manager of marijuana giant Canopy Growth, Adam Greenblatt, explains, dried pot flowers have more of a “best before” date, ensuring freshness and quality.
“Dried flower generally has quite a long shelf life, but after about a year, it starts to lose its smell,” Greenblatt said. “The THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) doesn’t degrade as quickly, but the subjective quality of it starts to degrade, so we use about a year as a rule of thumb.”
Terpenes are the compounds in cannabis that give the plant its “skunky” smell. Greenblatt notes that a lack of smell of the dried flower can be a good indicator of whether the marijuana has degraded, something that happens over time if not stored properly.
WATCH: Across the Canada, it’s looking like each province is taking quite a different approach to pot legalization.
“After a certain amount of time, the terpenes will degrade, you will notice a change in the smell over time,” Greenblatt said. “After a very long time, like five years for dried flower it starts to turn brown because the chlorophyll evaporates.”
University of British Columbia psychology professor and cannabis researcher Zach Walsh argues that the government is not wrong to say dried pot expires, because the medicinal components of marijuana change over time as the flower degrades, making the product different from the day it was purchased.
“It’s certainly appropriate for it to have an expiry date,” Walsh said. “The chemical components do degrade and change…One of the big benefits of legalization is that people are going to be able to have a pretty good idea of what they’re getting in their cannabis in terms of what the potency is, what are the constituents and if those change then it’s no longer what it says on the package, I would call that expired,” Walsh said.
“Not that it becomes dangerous, but it’s just no longer what it says,” Walsh said.
So what is it that changes in dried cannabis flower?
Canopy Growth explained that the THC, a cannabinoid that provides some of the health benefits of marijuana as well as the “buzz,” can degrade over time if the flower is not stored properly.
“Cannabis is best stored in an air-tight container and left in the dark, because light degrades the THC, so it’s generally best to store it in the dark,” Greenblatt said.
Walsh said that even with proper storage of the dried cannabis, the chemicals in the flower, called cannabinoids, break down and change over time.
“There’s a bunch of different cannabinoids, chemicals, inside herbal cannabis. Some have a somewhat similar structure and over time they’ll degrade and turn into one another,” Walsh said. “Something called CBN, cannabinol, THC and other cannabinoids can degrade into cannabinol which has a different psychoactive profile than THC, so it does change.”
The professor noted that the length of time before the change in the cannabis properties “has yet to be characterized, but it’s a matter of months.”
“You would certainly expect to see some substantial changes in cannabis over a year,” Walsh said.
As for storage, some people like to keep their dried marijuana in the fridge or freezer to help contain the natural smell of the pot, something that should be considered a no-no.
“I don’t recommend it … the trichomes on cannabis are very delicate. When you freeze cannabis, they can fall off when frozen,” Greenblatt explained.
Trichomes are the crystal-like hairs on the flower and leaves that produce the cannabinoids and terpenes.
“You can unwittingly reduce the quality of your cannabis if you’re keeping it in a freezer because the part that contains the cannabinoids can break off more easily,” Greenblatt said.
According to Health Canada, dried marijuana should be kept in a cool, dry place and out of the reach of children and pets.
Cannabis oils on the other hand can actually expire over time and should not be consumed past the expiry date.
“For oils, however, oils are a food product, cannabis resin diluted into like a sunflower oil or some kind of food oil,” Greenblatt said. “Oils can eventually go rancid, so we put a best before date for about a year for cannabis oils as well.”
The government said the proposed plain packaging would include a packaging date of the product and “an expiry date, if one has been set.”
It depends on the cannabis you buy and how you store it.