There’s a reason that most seasoned cannabis smokers will always choose freshly cured cannabis over flower that’s been sitting around for a while. That’s because, Yes, your cannabis does have an expiration date, as the older it is the more it’s smell and taste will have degraded. This happens because the precious flavonoids and terpenes that provide flavor are the most sensitive molecules in the plant, and are prone to breaking down or degrading over time. While, these generally don’t have much effect on the THC level, smoking tasty cannabis is always nice. The active cannabinoids will still degrade over time, but it takes a lot longer. When they do degrade however, a process that is sped up by improper storage and drying, the THC in your cannabis will begin to convert into CBN. This has diminished psycho-active effects and while still producing a “high”, the tendency is to feel more sleepy than uplifted. The duration is also lessened and the taste can be quite harsh to smoke.
How long does cannabis take to go “stale”?
Don’t worry, your cannabis isn’t going to go bad if you keep it around for a week, or even a month. It takes about a year for cannabis to begin losing smell and flavor. The degradation of the THC content is much slower but in terms of inhaling the best flower, freshly cured is the way to go.
The best thing you can do to keep your flower fresh is to store it properly. Failing to do so means your cannabis will end up dried out and losing its appeal quicker than it should.
How to store your cannabis flower
When it comes to storing your grass, choose glass. Stay away from plastics as they carry a static charge and can rob your flower of its valuable trichomes. Some plastics can also change the smell of your cannabis and affect the taste. Plastic is okay for short term, travel storage, but is not recommended for storing your stash long term.
For long term storage, it is also important to store cannabis flowers away from sunlight and UV rays. These are damaging to many organics, and cannabinoids and terpenes are no exception. You can choose an amber colored glass container to help protect your cannabis, but storage out of direct light is the best. A drawer, closet or even under your coffee table can work perfectly.
Choosing the correct container size is also important, as oxygen will dry out your flower very quickly. Make sure the container is only as big as it needs to be, so that the amount of oxygen is minimized. Try to open the container as little as possible so that no new air is introduced inside. This and container size are important aspects of maintaining freshness, unless of course you plan to vacuum pump after each opening.
Find a safe, dry, dark and cool place to store your flower. Below 77 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended as warmer temperatures speed up the drying process and can promote mold and mildew growth. Heat also has a negative impact on cannabinoids and terpenes, so don’t go storing your cannabis near a heat source.
The same goes for humidity, but this is a tad more complicated to get right. In terms of relative humidity numbers (RH), it is best to store your cannabis in the 59 – 63 % range. Make sure to stay under an RH of 65 to guard against mold or mildew, but pay attention that it’s not too dry either. While dry won’t promote mold, it does promote drying which removes terpenes and essential oils so your flower loses flavor and smell. There are ways to manage humidity, such as RH regulating gel packs you can keep inside your storage container to help maintain a perfect environment. You could also consider a cannabis humidor, which work great but can be quite pricey.
Do not put your flower in the fridge! That would be a big mistake as the humidity and extreme temperature can cause your flower to sweat and get moldy.
How to know if your cannabis is stale
What if your cannabis flower has been on the shelf for some time and you’re not sure if it’s still good. Honestly, unless the stuff is twenty years old, you will still get some effect from smoking it. It just might not be as strong or as flavorful as it once was.
To gauge the freshness of your bud, begin by examining it for terpenes. If you can’t see any crystals, it’s one indication of old flower.
Now smell it, paying attention to signs of mold or mildew. If you smell signs of these it is best not to smoke the flower.
Pull a bud apart and examine it for terpenes, mold or mildew and its smell. If the cannabis turns into powder as you pull apart the bud, it is beyond dry and not in its premium state. This is not an indicator of bad flower, because improper storage for even a short amount of time can cause bud to dry out completely.
Lastly, you’ll want to sample or taste some of the smoke from your cannabis flower. Stale flower smoke lacks the aromatic smell and taste, while producing a harsh smoke, that can feel like it’s burning your throat. This doesn’t happen with fresh flower and is the best of all the indicators for spotting stale cannabis.
Cannabis flower can last a long time, if you know what you’re doing
It’s not as bad as it seems though, so don’t worry about that ounce sitting in it’s jar on your desk. It’ll be fine. Degradation is a slow process if your cannabis is kept away from light, air and temperature extremes. Cannabis flower can maintain it’s cannabinoid stability and effectiveness for years… but only if it is properly stored.
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