Does Weed Expire?
It would be so very nice if the shelf life of weed was forever. Or if, like wine or cheese, pot just got better and better with age. Sadly, that’s not the case. So does weed expire? Cannabis is a plant, and like any living thing, its components will eventually degrade. Does that mean that smoking an old joint that you found hidden somewhere will kill you? No. Unless it is moldy, you’ll be OK. But does weed lose potency over time? Absolutely.
Does weed lose potency? How bad could it be?
Some people think of cannabis like pizza — even if it’s not great, it’s still pizza. So if you love weed, and you find weed, old or not, why not smoke it? I mean, can old weed do any harm? Well, if the weed is moldy, yes. While weed that has developed mold probably won’t kill you, it can definitely make you ill. For the average person who smokes moldy weed, the unpleasant symptoms will most likely be limited to coughing, nausea and possibly vomiting.
But if the person has an actual allergy to mold, serious inflammation can occur and manifest as congestion, sinus pain, draining and wheezing. And in people who have lung conditions or weakened immune systems, that’s when the health consequences can be quite serious. So in case it isn’t obvious, stay away from the moldy weed. Always. Just say no. But if we’re just talking about the old and crumbly kind, the only reason you wouldn’t smoke it is simply that it’s probably not very good.
But why does weed lose potency?
The thing that makes marijuana so wonderful is cannabinoids and terpenes. With time, those chemicals break down and the cannabis begins to lose its potency. Why does weed lose potency? When terpenes break down, those beautiful buds not only change in appearance but they lose their flavor and scent. At best, the weed gets bland and tasteless. At worst, it can end up tasting harsh and nasty.
But when the cannabinoids break down, that’s when you have a problem — that’s when your pot loses its THC. It’s the THC that induces the feeling of being high, so less THC means less potent weed, which means you’re getting less high. How much less? According to a study done by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, cannabis plant matter loses 16% of its THC after one year, 26% after 2 years, 34% after 3 years, and after 4 years, weed loses 41% of its THC.
Many products today, especially when it comes to medicinal marijuana, have an expiration date stamped right on them. But what if they don’t? If weed does expire, how do you know when it does?
- Lookee, lookee. Is there anything more beautiful than some perfectly manicured dense nugget-like cannabis buds with brightly colored pistils of orange or purple and a sparkly coating of trichomes? If what you’re looking at is dry and flaky, or has crumbled into mere shake, you know it’s not going to be good. But if you want to smoke it, go ahead. If it has a spongy feel however, that can be an indication of mold. And what did we say about mold? In fact, if you look closely, you may even be able to see the mold as discolored spots or as a white fuzz or white powder. And just like with old bread, if you see mold, it belongs in the trash.
- Take a whiff. Ah, the smell of good weed! Sometimes almost skunky, quality marijuana can also contain hints of earth, flower, spices, sugar, citrus or berries. If you can’t smell anything, that’s a sign that it’s past its prime. And if it smells musty, kind of like hay, that’s a warning. That indicates mold. Throw. It. Away.
- How’s it taste? Premium weed at its prime should leave a lingering taste in your mouth. The taste of good pot can be fruity or peppery, grassy or floral. Your taste buds should light up! Old weed can be bitter, but if it goes beyond that and tastes somehow “off” — that could be mold. Don’t risk it. Just toss it.
So just how long have I got?
The main things that determine weed shelf life are how it was cured, how it was stored and the product form. While it is impossible to determine an exact date of expiration merely by looking at your cannabis product, there are some general time guidelines if you’re curious about what you’ve got and wondering when does weed expire.
- Tinctures. Tinctures have the longest weed shelf life. CBD tinctures infused with high-proof alcohol, or RSOs (Rick Simpson Oils) made with an alcohol infusion process, can last well up to 10 years with proper storage. Oil-based tinctures can generally last for about two years.
- Edibles. Most cannabis edibles contain perishable ingredients like eggs and milk so those of the homemade variety, like brownies or cookies, even if kept in an airtight container, should not be kept for more than a couple of days. Edibles from a dispensary often have preservatives that can extend their time, but you really shouldn’t ignore their use-by-date. Baked goods can be tricky, but do edible gummies expire? Cannabis-infused candy can usually last between six to nine months as long as you keep them in their original packaging and away from sunlight.
- Flower. How long your cannabis flower can last really comes down to how well you store it after you buy it. While it is generally advisable to smoke it within six months, and it starts to degrade after about nine months, keeping your bud within a perfectly maintained environment can help extend the weed shelf life up to 18 months. Joints typically come in a tube or wrapper, so do prerolls expire? While pre-rolls are less likely to get moldy, they still will degrade with age and lose their potency. So again, you’ve got about six to 12 months if you pay attention to how you store them.
You keep talking about storage…
While proper curing is crucial for the best, highest-quality weed, storage is what really determines how long and how well weed will last. Consumers need to be sure to take matters into their own hands once they’ve procured their weed, and do everything they can to keep it safe from the elements. More and more, customers are looking to their dispensary to not only provide them with premium products but also proper packaging. Proper packaging includes protecting its contents from not only potential pollutants but also damaging forces such as air, light, heat and moisture.
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