Let’s get this out of the way right from the get-go: Cannabis isn’t invincible. In fact, despite its relative robustness, it will degrade, lose potency, and become less enjoyable to consume. The cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial plant compounds will be less effective. There’s no stopping this. It’s an organic and natural product after all.
However, there are ways to keep your cannabis fresh for long periods of time. You just have to know how and why, which is where we step in as your loyal and trusted guide.
So, how do you keep your weed fresh? What steps are needed to make sure you’re getting to most of each and every plant compound?
Why waste your time, effort, and money on weed if you’re not going to store it correctly? Correct storage techniques will prolong its shelf life, keeping it fresh, potent, and effective for longer (up to a year or more).
Keep your weed in opaque, color-tinted glass jars or containers for ultimate protection from the elements. No plastic bags (baggies).
Be mindful of heat, UV light, oxygen exposure, and humidity. All four can significantly degrade your cannabis. Store in a cool, dry, and dark place with humidity control packets.
Keep your weed products separate. Don’t mix old and new into one container. You want to keep your fresh cannabis as healthy and enjoyable as possible.
Though tempting, don’t frequently manhandle your weed — only touch it when you need to use it and store it.
Last but not least — check your weed periodically once or twice every 1-2 weeks for signs of degradation and mold.
Why correct cannabis storage is important
Time, effort, money, and your wellbeing. These four things are why keeping your cannabis stored is important. Why waste time on shitty weed? Why put in the effort of purchasing high-grade cannabis or CBD hemp flower only for it to lose its quality? Why purchase it in the first place? Why should you risk your health consuming harmful mold-ridden marijuana or CBD flower?
Weed’s lifespan (and what you can do to prolong it)
Weed isn’t indestructible. It has a lifespan and subsequent shelf life. Cannabis flower usually lasts approximately 6 months to a year, but only if you’re 100% dedicated to taking the necessary steps towards true cannabis storage glory.
If you don’t store your cannabis in the correct way, you’re sending it to an early grave.
Mold and fungi can decimate your once prized cannabis or CBD hemp flower if too much moisture latches onto it. Valuable trichomes can break off if frequently mishandled. Potency can decrease significantly when exposed to air and UV light. All of these things (and more) can transform your healthy cannabis into unhealthy cannabis, often in a relatively short space of time.
The 13 cannabis storage mistakes to avoid
1. Not attempting to store your cannabis at all
This one is obvious but making absolutely no attempt to store your cannabis properly is a route to poor weed quality. We always recommend knowing exactly how correct storage works and all the ways to avoid eventual heartbreak after discovering your weed has turned to absolute junk.
Follow this guide and digest it. Use it as your cannabis storage bible. Simple.
2. Giving your weed the freezer treatment
Some “experts” out there claim storing cannabis in the freezer helps preserve its freshness. This isn’t true, especially if it’s pure marijuana flower (or CBD hemp flower for that matter). Why? Because exposing weed to temperature fluctuations can cause plant material degradation and damage i.e. room temperature to below-freezing temperatures to room temperature again.
One of the worst problems with exposure to conflicting temperatures, particularly when your cannabis flower is taken from frozen to room temperature (or warmer), is valuable trichomes can become fragile and break off. These trichomes carry all the beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes, etc. Without them, your weed is borderline useless.
Step #1: Don’t put your weed anywhere near the freezer.
Step #2: No. We really mean it. Step away from the freezer!
Step #3: Store your cannabis in temps of 35-68°F.
3. Leaving your cannabis in accessories and paraphernalia
If you’re someone who routinely leaves small or large quantities of weed in bongs, pipes, or grinders, you’re not alone. This behavior is common among many cannabis users. It’s very easy to do, particularly if you’re high as balls and your brain has an enhanced level of forgetfulness. However, it’s imperative you clean your cannabis accessories and paraphernalia after every use. Why? Because when you next use them, you’ll be mixing old, used, and burnt cannabis with fresh cannabis, resulting in poor aromas and flavors. It’s also kind of unsanitary.
Clean your accessories and paraphernalia thoroughly. Don’t just tip the grinder or bong bowl upside down to get the weed out. Practice proper cleaning.
For grinders, disassemble, soak in pure alcohol, and scrub with a clean toothbrush until no residual plant material remains.
For bong bowls, proper cleaning depends on the material. Silicone is the easiest to clean. Glass and metal require more forethought. With silicone, you can use boiling water or alcohol/non-alcohol solutions. Glass is more susceptible to damage. Don’t use boiling water. Just use alcohol/non-alcohol solutions for the best results.
4. Storing your cannabis near heat sources
Heat stress is a common cannabis killer. It can occur indoors via being too close to heat sources e.g. electrical heater, radiator, microwave, TV, etc. It can also occur outdoors in hot weather conditions. Common signs of heat-stressed cannabis include a dry, withered, and unhealthy look, as well as dark brown blotchy patches and yellow-tinted discoloration. You may also see the edges of the cannabis leaves curling upwards.
When a certain level of heat hits your cannabis, it would suddenly go bad or show signs of significant heat stress. Cannabis is robust and able to withstand a beating. However, when heat stress does eventually happen, degradation of cannabinoids and other plant compounds begins.
Be mindful of where you’re storing your cannabis. Keep it away from all heat sources, including the aforementioned heater, radiator, microwave, etc, as well as direct sunlight. We always recommend a cool, dry place e.g. under the stairs or a cupboard.
5. Placing it in direct sunlight
Direct sunlight is also a common cannabis killer capable of doing damage in a relatively short period of time. Sunlight carries ultraviolet (UV) light, a form of electromagnetic radiation known to cause a beautiful golden tan in moderate doses but also damage living tissue and destroy organic molecules in the longer term. Organic molecules include cannabis compounds such as cannabinoids, terpenes (linalool, limonene, pinene), and flavonoids (cannflavines, vitexin, orientin). This degradation of each cannabis compound results in diminished potency, flavor, aroma, and overall quality, resulting in an ineffective and underwhelming experience.
The first and most obvious way to counteract UV light damaging your cannabis is by keeping it away from direct sunlight. This is the ultimate foolproof method of making sure your cannabis isn’t affected. This means not having it near a window or left outside in a clear glass container. Somewhere cool, dry, and away from all sunlight is the best and most preferred place to store it.
6. Exposing your cannabis to overwhelming humidity
Many people believe humidity is cannabis’s worst enemy. This isn’t strictly true. There are certain humidity levels required to stop your cannabis from drying out and/or becoming too moist, which can happen within a day or two.
This phenomenon can be measured by the terpenes and their aroma being secreted from the trichomes, as well as the overall potency, benefits, and effects when the cannabis is consumed. If your flower is too moist, mold and fungi can grow, potentially causing you harm when smoked or ingested. If too dry, the potency is lower, resulting in you having to consume more to get the desired effects and benefits.
We recommend storing your cannabis in 55-65 relative humidity (RH) — 62 ideal. In order to control and maintain optimal humidity levels, we advise investing in humidity control packets. These clever packets absorb moisture when humidity reaches above a certain level, while also releasing moisture when the environment becomes too dry.
7. Keep that protective lid on tight!
A container’s lid isn’t just there to stop your cannabis from falling out if knocked over. It also serves an entirely different purpose — one many fail to recognize. You see, a well-fitted, airtight lid is the ultimate protection from air exposure, which can severely degrade valuable cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant compounds via oxidation. A bit like rust damage on metal. This degradation can cause potency and quality loss, as well as aroma and flavor differences (not always in a good way).
Oxidation can also result in THC converting to cannabinol, which is perfectly fine if that’s what you want. But if you’re not happy with CBN-rich cannabis or hemp flower, best to keep that lid on tight.
The best way to keep your weed safe from oxidation is simple: always put your cannabis in a container and keep the lid on. Don’t leave the lid completely open or partially sealed. Make sure it’s closed properly with no chance of oxygen getting in. Invest in a container with a properly constructed airtight lid.
8. Keeping your cannabis in a plastic sandwich bag (and not in a sturdier container)
A plastic sandwich bag is best for, well, sandwiches and other food items. It’s ineffective for cannabis storage. Why? Well, firstly, plastic bags (baggies) are weak and offer no physical protection. Cannabis can easily be crushed or partially damaged, degrading its overall quality. Trichomes, for example, are fragile. A couple of swift knocks or hits and away goes the trichomes, never to be seen or heard from again. Baggies also contain static charge, resulting in not only trichome displacement but also trichomes sticking to the sides of the bag.
We recommend staying away from baggies altogether, only using them as a last resort or temporary storage measure. As an alternative, use impermeable and opaque (not clear) glass containers or jars.
9. Mixing cannabis products
This is actually a surprising one to both newbies and experienced cannabis users alike. It’s always best to keep older and newer cannabis separate. The reason for this is simple. If your old cannabis has degraded, so has the flavor, aroma, potency, and overall quality. If you mix this degraded cannabis with non-degraded cannabis and place it into a joint, blunt, pipe, or bong, the experience could be, well, interesting and probably not that enjoyable.
Store all strains you purchase separately in opaque, color-tinted glass containers. Avoid mixing them, even if you think they’re both of the same quality.
10. Filling the entire container with weed
Your container (remember: glass jar) shouldn’t be completely filled with cannabis or hemp CBD flower. It should fill roughly ⅔ of the jar and be packed as loosely as possible. This allows some air to stay in the jar and flow through the flower, balancing out the humidity and moisture levels. If your cannabis is a little on the moist side, keep the lid open for 2-3 hours to bring the moisture level down to an optimal level.
11. Overhandling your cannabis
Getting a bit too touchy-feely with your cannabis? That’s OK. Most cannabis products are naturally beautiful creations. The temptation is very real but ultimately damaging. The more you touch it, the more likely you are to damage the fragile trichomes, causing them to break or crumble off. This is not what you want. As mentioned, trichomes are the most important part of cannabis and CBD hemp flower. They carry a huge percentage of beneficial plant compounds, including CBD and THC. If your trichomes have deteriorated or been destroyed because you’ve manhandled the flower too much, not only will you kick your own ass but you’ll be left with a less than adequate cannabis experience for the price you paid. Not worth it.
We recommend only handling your cannabis flower when you’re ready to use it. Refrain from putting your hands on it every 10 seconds to admire its majestic beauty.
12. Failing to check your cannabis flower frequently
To really make sure your cannabis or hemp flower is perfectly fresh and ready to consume, you need to be checking it regularly — not just once in a green moon. We know many cannabis users (newbie or otherwise) who only check it once or twice over a couple of months. This isn’t helpful.
We recommend checking it at least once or twice every week or two. Look out for signs of mold or degradation e.g. browns patches and yellow discoloration.
13. Keeping it in your car
Aside from being like a sauna during the hot seasons, which will degrade your cannabis significantly over time due to the heat, storing it in your car poses a far more annoying problem. While many U.S. states enjoy medical and recreational cannabis, some law enforcement officers don’t enjoy you having it in your car, especially during a stop and search.
In most cases, an officer won’t search your car if they get a whiff of weed, particularly if you have a medical cannabis card on you. Even if you’re searched, lawful possession of newly-purchased and properly sealed cannabis from a dispensary is not an offense.
However, if your cannabis container is not sealed (or you have over the maximum purchasable amount), this can be an issue. Law enforcement is within their legal right to fine you (if first offense).
If you have an opened container of cannabis, put it in the trunk of your car. Don’t keep loose cannabis flower in the passenger side compartment (unless you’re a medical marijuana patient with a medical marijuana ID card). Of course, all of this is case-by-case and largely depends on the U.S. state you’re in. We recommend checking your state laws before you think about having cannabis containers in your car (especially if previously opened).