Does weed expire? In short, yes, but it doesn't go bad like milk. It's more like aged wine – sometimes its fine, sometimes it tastes vinegary. But how can you tell if it’s a vintage classic or just old and crusty? In this article we'll talk about the signs to look out for, from the smell (or lack thereof) to the texture. We'll also be exploring how long weed lasts and the factors that can send it to an early grave. By the end of this read, you’ll be a pro in weeding out the bad from the good.
Does Weed Go Bad?
The short answer to this question is yes. Just like any other organic substance, weed can indeed go bad over time. However, the "expiry" of weed isn't quite like the expiry of a carton of milk. It won't spoil or become harmful to ingest, but its potency, flavor, and aroma can degrade significantly.
Factors Affecting Weed's Shelf Life
Cannabinoids, the active components in cannabis, are sensitive to light, heat, and oxygen. Over time, THC, the compound responsible for the psychoactive effects of weed, breaks down into a cannabinoid called CBN, which is less psychoactive. This means that the weed loses its potency as it ages. You might also notice that older weed has a more sedative effect due to the presence of CBN.
Cannabinoid breakdown and its impact on potency
THC, is the main psychoactive cannabinoid that gets you high. Over time THC along with the other cannabinoids in weed begin to break down. This means that as your weed ages, its effect slowly deteriorates with it.
Importance of proper storage conditions
Weed is a fussy plant; it demands perfect conditions even when harvested and dried. This means a sealed container that’s not exposed to heat, moisture, or sunlight. This trio is like the arch-nemesis of your weed, taking away its potency, taste and smell.
Terpene breakdown: How this affects your weed
Terpenes are the compounds found in cannabis that give it its smell and flavor profile. As weed ages, exposure to oxygen, light, and heat causes terpenes to degrade. This alters the chemical structure of the terpenes, causing a loss of smell and flavor. This blunts the taste and smell of weed making it much less enjoyable to smoke.
So, what is the shelf life of weed?
Once you have harvested and dried your bud the clock begins ticking. Weed is best enjoyed within 6 months to a year. That is providing you store it in a cool, dark, dry environment, ideally in a glass airtight container away from any drastic temperature fluctuations.
What causes weed to go bad?
Now, several factors play a role in how long your weed stays fresh. This includes the strain, how it was grown, and – you guessed it – how you store it.
- Sunlight: Exposure to UV rays from the sun can break down cannabinoids and terpenes, reducing potency and flavor.
- Exposure to Oxygen: Oxygen can oxidize cannabinoids and terpenes. This leads to the breakdown of these compounds, causing the weed to lose its potency and smell.
- Temperature: High temperatures can speed up the degradation process of cannabinoids and terpenes. On the other hand, very low temperatures can cause trichomes to become brittle and break off, losing valuable compounds.
- Moisture: Excessive moisture can lead to mold growth, which not only makes the weed unusable but also poses health risks. Too little moisture causes the plant material to dry out, resulting in a harsh smoke.
- Being too dry: When weed is too dry, it loses its terpenes, and the smoke becomes harsher. The lack of moisture also causes the trichomes to become brittle and crumble away, which means a significant loss in potency.
Spotting the signs of stale weed
So, how to spot bad weed? Well, if it looks tired, with a loss of color, and feels overly dry to the touch, you’ve got stale weed. If it is lacking any smell and the flavor is non-existent, these are clear signs. Also, if it doesn’t pack the usual punch, it’s past its prime. Look out for….
- Loss of Aroma: Stale weed typically loses its pungent smell, while moldy weed may have a musty or unpleasant odor.
- Changed Texture: Stale weed will feel dry and crumbly, whereas moldy weed may feel unusually damp or sticky.
- Loss of Flavor: If the weed has lost its characteristic flavor and tastes bland or off, it might be stale.
- Brittle Trichomes: If the small, crystalline structures on the bud easily break off, it might indicate the weed is stale.
- Altered Color: Stale weed tends to be more brownish, losing its vibrant green color, while moldy weed may have white or gray fuzzy spots.
- Decreased Potency: If the weed doesn't produce the usual effects, or they’re notably diminished, it might be stale.
What causes mold to grow on weed?
Mold growth on dried weed is caused by excessive moisture and improper storage. When you store weed in a humid environment, the moisture creates a breeding ground for mold. Warm temperatures and lack of air circulation can further contribute to mold growth. It's also crucial to consider the cleanliness of the storage space. To prevent mold, it's essential to store weed in a cool, dry place inside airtight containers.
Spotting the signs of moldy weed
While stale weed isn't the most pleasant of smokes. One thing you want to avoid is your stash going moldy. Once mold strikes it can spread fast so its important to keep an eye out for clear signs of mold.
- Visible Mold: Moldy weed will often have visible mold spots, which can range from white to green or even black.
- Presence of Mildew: A mildew smell or appearance is a sign of mold.
- Harsh Smoke: Stale/moldy weed often produces a harsher smoke that can be irritating to the throat.
- Brown/grey patches: If you see brown or grey patches on your bud this could be a sign of mold developing.
- Dense Clumping: If the buds are sticking together more than usual and feel damp, it might be a sign of mold.
How to extend the expiry date of weed
Using an airtight container, preferably a glass jar, is like storing your weed in a vault. It keeps air and moisture out and maintains the integrity of your stash.
Keep it in a cool, dark place
Next, find a cool, dark place for your weed. Heat and sunlight will gradually damage your weed. Storing it in a cool dark place like the back of a cupboard or closet is best. However, make sure it is kept away from radiators, windows or boilers as this could cause temperature fluctuations.
Avoid the elements
Lastly, ensure that there’s no exposure to heat, moisture, or sunlight. Storing it in an airtight container in a cupboard should cover the first two. But, to avoid moisture you should add a couple of humidity packs to your jars of bud to regulate the moisture in the air.
How long does weed stay good?
Weed should stay fresh for about 6 months to 1 year. However, if it is stored in vacuum sealed bags where the majority of air is taken away from the weed it can stay fresh for a couple of years.
What happens if you use expired weed?
It’s less potent, has fewer flavors, and is less aromatic. Stale weed doesn't normally make you sick, but the smoke will be dull and the high wont be as potent. If it is a long way past its expiry date, then you could make yourself sick if any mold has grown on the bud.
What does bad weed look like?
Bad weed will lose its color, and doesn’t smell or taste as it should. Normally it will look very dry and goes a dark green or browny color like dried leaves. If you see any white or grey patches avoid smoking it as this could be mold growing on your bud.
What does bud rot smell like?
It has a musty, unpleasant, damp smell. It can also smell vinegary depending on how far gone the bud is.
What is the best way to store weed to keep it fresh?
To store your weed for optimal freshness you should use an airtight glass container, store it in a cool, dark place, and avoid heat, moisture, and sunlight. Alternatively if you have a vacuum sealer this is also great for storing weed for longer periods.