Does Weed Expire? What to Look For and Storage Tips
Does weed expire? Although cannabis won’t go bad the same way milk or meat might, this doesn’t mean that cannabis doesn’t have a best-before date. While ‘old’ cannabis might not be as harmful as other foods, the potency, flavour and experience that an ‘expired’ cannabis product provides will be drastically different.
So, does weed expire? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t relatively that straightforward.
Does Weed Expire?
Does weed expire? The short answer is no, cannabis does not expire, but that doesn’t mean users should consume it.
Currently, Health Canada dictates that cannabis packaging for all dried or fresh cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals must either have an expiry date or a statement that no expiry date has been determined. Health Canada defines the expiry date as “the stability period of the cannabis product” stated in at least a month and year.
The stability period of a cannabis product is challenging to define. Health Canada describes a cannabis product’s stability as its ability to maintain its phytocannabinoid content. According to Health Canada, heat, light, humidity, acidity and oxidation, all affect the stability of cannabis and can cause its potency, terpenes and THC cannabinoids level to drop.
Cannabis, when kept in proper cannabis storage conditions, will retain its potency, aroma and flavour and remain fresh for many months.
Additionally, Health Canada also has several guidelines to control the humidity, temperature and oxygen levels of cannabis before, during, and after its processing period.
However, these controls become ineffective once the end consumer opens the package. When properly stored, cannabis can remain stable for long periods. While cannabis products don’t have a clear-cut expiration date, consuming them isn’t always a good idea.
Should You Consume Old Weed?
While fresh weed delivers the best consumption experience, this doesn’t mean that cannabis products past their stability dates need to be disposed of right away.
If cannabis is stored properly in a dark place away from direct sunlight and in glass jars or a similar airtight container, it’ll likely stay fresh long after its posted stability date.
However, if your cannabis isn’t stored in a sealed container and without any humidity packs, mold spores and excess moisture from the environment can enter the container, leading to mold growth and moldy weed.
Fortunately, mold is likely one of the only dangers that cannabis past its stability date has. Moldy weed can cause health issues, but a quick mold inspection can help you determine whether or not older weed is safe to consume or not.
With that being said, even if old cannabis is relatively safe to consume, it might not be the best choice. Here’s why:
How to Tell if Your Weed Has Gone Bad
If you’re on the fence about deciding whether or not to consume an older cannabis product or one that’s past its stability date, here are four factors you should consider.
The smell of cannabis is pungent and distinct. Cannabis past its stability date won’t smell as strongly compared to when it was fresh, but it should have its characteristic smell.
Moldy cannabis smells like musty hay, human sweat or urine and can be dangerous to your health and your home. If your old weed smells like this, it’s best to dispose of it.
While different strains of cannabis products can vary in colour, properly harvested weed will be in varying shades of green with spots of purple and orange. Marijuana products past their expiry date will be brown, yellow and dull in colour, almost like tobacco.
Users must also inspect older dried weed products for mold. Moldy weed will look wet, with fuzzy patches on the surface of the bud that can range in colour from white, brown, black or gray.
Fresh cannabis will have pistils poking out throughout the bud’s surface, crystal-like hairs on the surface of the bud that contain high amounts of resin. On older products, these pistils might disintegrate into a fine powder when handled.
Weed loses its moisture the longer it’s exposed to the elements. If your cannabis nugs look shrivelled up and dry, it’s a sign that it’s excessively dry and will produce harsh smoke when consumed.
To determine whether or not your cannabis products are dried out or not, squish the bud between your index finger and thumb. The bud should be springy and firm without being too dense. If the buds feel wet and squishy, it’s a sign that your weed has developed mold and should be thrown away.
While too much cannabis can lead to greening out, the taste of old marijuana might lead to an upset stomach or worse. Terpenes, compounds responsible for the taste and aroma of many different fruits, vegetables and cannabis, have a lower boiling point than THC and CBD. Your old cannabis products might remain potent, but their terpenes and flavours have likely dried up.
The evaporation of terpenes might also mean a less-than-stellar consumption experience. Some research suggests that the intermingling of terpenes and cannabinoids could play a role in mediating the effects of cannabis.
This hypothesized ‘entourage effect‘ could explain the different experiences provided by various strains, so bad taste might not be the only disadvantage of consuming old cannabis products.
How to Keep Weed Fresh
Proper storage is essential to maintain the shelf life and stability of your cannabis products.
Cannabis packaging will maintain its shelf life until the end of its posted stability date. Still, once it’s open, your product can develop mold and lose its freshness and potency within days.
Fortunately, keeping your products fresh to ensure a good consumption experience is straightforward. There are only three things you need to consider when storing cannabis – light, moisture and humidity.
For many, storing your products in mason jars or similar airtight containers in a cool and dark place away from sunlight with a humidity pack will be more than sufficient.
If you’re removing the product from your storage container, move quickly and be sure to close the jar as fast as possible to limit the amount of moisture and oxygen entering into the container. These small steps can make a big difference when it comes to preserving the aroma, potency and flavour of your cannabis products.
For more storage tips, be sure to check out our guide on cannabis storage.
Does Weed Expire? More Than Meets the Eye
Whether you’re using medical marijuana or consuming recreationally, fresh is best. Does weed expire? While it’s difficult to say definitively when weed goes bad, we hope that this article has helped shed some light on how to determine if cannabis buds are good to consume or not.
Please note that this content is intended to act as entertainment and a general educative aid and is not intended to act as or substitute healthcare advice from a professional healthcare service or qualified healthcare provider. If you have any questions or concerns, please consult your physician or a qualified healthcare provider.