You’ve probably heard that you should store your cannabis in a cool and dry place, but that doesn’t mean you should just put it in a plastic bag, toss it in your sock drawer, and call it a day.
As a dried herb with many benefits, cannabis requires a little extra care to ensure you get the most out of it. And while this doesn’t mean that you need to invest in your own in-home bank vault or a coffee table sized biodome to seal off your weed from the world, with a little effort you can ensure that your herb stays in premium condition no matter how long it takes you to finish your stash.
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So, what really goes into properly storing your cannabis? What happens if your cannabis is not stored in the right way? Is freezing it a good idea? Let’s take a look at how to store your cannabis properly, starting with the Dos and Don’ts.
The Dos and Don’ts of storing weed:
- Keep it away from light
- Keep it in an airtight container
- Use a glass container
- Make sure the container is clean (and dry) first
- Keep it in a cool, dry (but not too dry) spot
- Try humidity packs
- Keep it in the fridge or freezer
- Use a plastic bag
- Leave it exposed to light
- Open the container too frequently
- Handle the buds more than necessary
- Leave it somewhere that children can easily find it.
First things first: What’s the ideal temperature for your cannabis
You can have the perfect, airtight, light-proof container for your cannabis, but if the temperature is wrong it can all go up in smoke — and not in a good way.
Many advise keeping cannabis in a cold place, but the main question is: How cold?
It is recommended to keep cannabis in temperatures below 21°C (70°F). Between 25-30°C (77-86°F) is the ideal temperature for mold to thrive, so you’ll want to avoid that range. Excessive heat can also dry out and degrade cannabinoids and terpenes. According to USP, which sets standards for pharmaceuticals in the US, “cool” temperatures are defined as: “any temperature between 8 and 15°C (46°F and 59°F)”
But what does the research say?
A 2012 experimental study on the long-term storage and stability of cannabis oil discovered that while a gradual decay of THC would happen over time, nearly a quarter (23.16%) would decay in samples exposed to light at 22°C (71.6°F) or higher in just one year. The study also found that when kept in darkness at a low temperature 4°C (39°F) the cannabis oil lost on average 21.6% of its THC. As expected, the CBN content increases during the storage period, because THC converts to CBN over time. This study supports keeping you cannabis oil in a room below 21°C (70°F) whenever possible
On the other hand, the same study showed the decay of CBD in samples stored in darkness at 4°C (39°F) was 11.3%. When stored in laboratory light at 22°C (71.6°F), however, the average loss was 13.45%. Again,, cannabis stored in normal storage conditions (natural light and ambient temperature) showed a higher rate of cannabinoid decay compared to cannabis in special storage conditions (darkness and low temperature).
The bottom line is that protecting cannabis from heat and light is one of the easiest steps you can take to preserve it for the long haul. If you plan to store your stash for a long period of time, you should consider a cool, dark corner of the house like the back of the closet or a cellar.
How to store dried cannabis properly
The quality of dried cannabis flower can be impacted by several factors, including oxygen, light, heat, and moisture. Exposure to any of these influences can cause mold or dry out the cannabis buds. Why are dry buds a problem if you can still smoke them? The answer is simple — the entourage effect. Ideal storage conditions will best preserve the cannabinoids and terpenes in your cannabis. That way, the next time you smoke your herb, it should be a similar experience and taste as the first time you used it.
Ideally, marijuana should be stored in a cool, dry (but not overly dry) place with no light.
Here are some of the most popular methods of storing weed:
- Plastic/Ziploc bags
Easy, but they don’t protect weed from light, aren’t airtight, and can damage or remove trichomes from the buds. There are far more suited reciptibles that better preserve your ganja.
- A wooden box
A classy, attractive storage option that blocks light, but is typically not airtight and doesn’t protect from moisture. In fact, unless it’s a humidor, a wooden box may dry out your cannabis.
- Glass jars
Considered the ideal marijuana storage container — they are airtight, have no static charge, and allow you to see your weed without opening and removing the buds. The glass keeps the smell and humidity in, preserving those precious terpenes. Just make sure to keep the herb in a dark spot, as clear glass doesn’t protect from light. An ever better option would be to use opaque, brown, or dark green glass jars.
- Plastic containers/Tupperware
Tupperware and the hard plastic containers medical cannabis come in can be airtight and protect from light, but they produce a static charge that can lead to trichomes sticking to the plastic, stealing those precious cannabinoids and terpenes from the flowers. They also don’t offer the same level of protection from water-loss as glass. Consider them a temporary storage option..
- In the freezer or refrigerator
You store so many other things in the freezer, why not weed? In the freezer, the cold temperature will make the trichomes brittle and they can easily fall off the buds, making you lose those precious cannabinoids and terpenes. And if you store your weed in the refrigerator, the fluctuations in temperature and humidity can reduce its shelf life.
- Film canister or pill bottle
For the old school cannabis fans who actually remember film canisters, they were something of a synonym for “weed container.” Like plastic prescription pill bottles, they’re a convenient, compact way to store weed, but not ideal for long-term storage for the same reasons as other plastic. That said, these containers are quite handy when you’re on the go.
- A humidor
Not just for your cigar smoking father-in-law or your boss (assuming they aren’t the same person), a small wooden humidor can be a great container for your weed. Marijuana humidors are designed for storing cannabis at the right humidity and typically entail a wooden box with glass containers inside for your weed.
How to store weed brownies and other edibles
How you store edibles will depend on the type in question. Just like treats in your pantry that don’t contain cannabis, weed gummies and brownies can have a very different shelf life.
If they are store-bought edibles, like THC gummies or chocolates, you should follow the manufacturer supplied instructions for storage. (Does it need to be refrigerated after opening? How long is the shelf life after opening? etc.)
If they are homemade edibles like pot brownies, then treat them like you would any perishable food item, bearing in mind that the presence of eggs, butter, and the like will mean that they have a finite shelf life. Keep them in an airtight container, and ideally in the fridge so they don’t go stale as quickly. You can also wrap brownies and cookies in wax paper (plastic wrap can stick to the edibles in the freezer) and store them in the freezer and they should keep for several months. Since it isn’t flower anymore, you’re not going to loose the trichomes in the freezer.
The same goes for homemade cannabutter and canna oil. If you plan to use it soon, then keeping infusions in the fridge or a kitchen counter at room temperature makes sense. If you have a large batch that you don’t plan to eat your way through this weekend, then storing it in the freezer is a good idea. For cannabutter, an easy dosing option is to fill an ice cube tray with cannabutter, and then plop out a cube when the occasion arises.
One crucial rule to keep in mind with storing edibles though: Keep them labeled and out of the reach of children, ideally in a locked cabinet of some sort. This might seem like common sense, but it happens more often than you one might think and children do not tolerate cannabis as well as adults. Keep your edibles out of reach. Also, if the gummies are store bought, keep them in the original container to avoid having a house guest stumble upon some unmarked, innocent-looking gummies and tossing a few in their mouth. Otherwise, they may be sticking around your house for a while longer than planned.
How long does weed stay fresh?
Like many things, the shelf life of marijuana depends on how you care for it. If your weed has been well dried and cured, and you keep it in a cool, dark spot with the right dry-humid balance, it could last well over six months, even a year or more before it starts losing significant flavor and strength. If you don’t properly store your cannabis flower, though, it can dry out rather quickly. Less commonly, with improper curing, drying or storage, cannabis can actually become moldy and truly go bad.
Don’t just take it from us. According to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, when low potency cannabis was stored at room temperature (21°C or 70°F) and protected from light, the concentration of THC in the plant material decreased by roughly 15% after one year, 25% after two years, 35% after three years, and 40% after four years.
The report also cites a study from 1970 that found “the THC content of marihuana at room temperature decreases at the rate of 3% to 5% per month.” This is supported by numerous newer studies verifying this loss of potency. In fact, after four years of storage, even when protected from light, most THC in cannabis flowers or concentrates had fully degraded to byproducts like Cannabinol (CBN).
Having said that, we’ve all heard — or experienced — stories about finding a stash of weed that the old tenants buried in the house a decade earlier, or a baggie of dessicated herb forgotten somewhere in your parents’ closet. These forgotten marijuana artifacts are typically safe to consume, but you can expect a dry, harsh smoke, with limited flavor and a much weaker effect.This is due to the loss or terpenes and the degradation of the cannabinoids.
You might be better off letting sleeping buds lie.
Can weed go bad?
This brings us to another question: Can weed go bad? Not just in the sense of becoming dry and weak, but actually harmful to consume?
Old weed can actually pose a health risk if it has been kept in moist, humid conditions that have led it to develop mold. Smoking moldy weed can be quite harsh, often will make you cough, and can make you feel nauseous. And for people with weakened immune systems, smoking weed that contains high amounts bacteria or mold can actually make them seriously ill — or worse.
Luckily, if you purchase cannabis that’s been tested for mold and keep your weed in a cool, not-moist, airtight container, you probably won’t need to worry about mold.
Humidity and marijuana
When it comes to humidity and marijuana storage, it’s something of a balancing act. Too much humidity and you can end up with some moldy weed that you’ll need to toss out. Too little humidity and you can be left with overly dry, brittle weed that can be a harsh smoke. Overly dry conditions can also degrade the terpenes and cannabinoids in weed, which can affect its smell, flavor, and the high it produces.
But how do you hit that sweet spot?
A good range of humidity is around 59-63%, though some industry experts say a 55-65% range is ideal. This is why most humidity packs designed for cannabis are about 62% relative humidity.
The most surefire way to manage the humidity is by using a humidor for your weed (aka, a “cannador”), but a simpler and cheaper solution could be to just throw some humidity packs into your jar. These are small moisture packets about the size of a moist towelette packet that you get at a restaurant, and they can help maintain the balance between too moist and too dry.
How to store weed with no smell
When cannabis is fresh and perfectly cured, it can have a pungent, “loud” aroma that can stink up a room, even through a plastic bag.
An airtight glass jar will solve most of the smell, but some of it still can escape. If smell is a major concern, you could try putting your herb inside of a smaller container inside of a larger sealed one, or just make sure that it’s buried inside another sealed space like a cabinet or drawer.
There are also all types of odor-proof bags and cases you can purchase online. In most cases, you could put your herb in an airtight jar inside the bag, creating two barriers to the smell.
You can also invest in some simple odor absorbers or air fresheners to try and mask the smell of cannabis.
How to store marijuana seeds
When stored right, cannabis seeds can stay viable for several years. For cannabis seeds, a lot of the same principles for storing marijuana flower apply as well. You’ll want to keep them in a cool, dark, and dry location where they aren’t exposed to light, heat, or moisture.
If you’re looking for longer-term storage, seeds should be kept much cooler, ideally in the refrigerator. Keep in mind you’ll want to keep a close eye on humidity in the fridge, so make sure they’re kept in an airtight container. Seeds exposed to humidity can start to sprout, which is not ideal if you’re trying to save them. If you have a separate, smaller refrigerator like a wine fridge that you can dedicate to storing seeds, this will prevent any temperature or humidity shifts from opening the refrigerator door repeatedly.
Much like cannabis flower, you’ll want to store seeds in a container, like a small jar, where they won’t be crushed or handled directly. If you have store bought seeds, try to keep them in their original packaging if possible.
The best marijuana storage? It might just be a simple mason jar
Investing in high quality, air-tight jars can be a bit pricey, but definitely worthwhile. To protect cannabis from light exposure, go with an amber glass jar — the darker, the better. Glass jars protect the cannabis from air and moisture and keep the aroma fresh. If you don’t feel like splurging for some fancy jar, a simple mason jar does the job nicely and will only cost you a few bucks.
You should also look for a container that isn’t too large for your stash. The less air inside of the container — known as headspace — the better your jar will help preserve the terpenes. Plus, in a smaller jar, even a relatively small amount of marijuana could look more plentiful.
Keep the jar away from light
As you may know, light is one of the biggest enemies of dried cannabis buds and concentrates.
A study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology in 1976 looked at the stability of cannabis solutions when stored in different conditions. The study found that exposure to light — not just direct sunlight — had the greatest impact on loss of cannabinoids, especially concentrates..
While any light exposure is bad, exposing cannabis to direct sunlight should not even be a question. UV rays from the sun break down organic matter, which in cannabis results in cannabinoid degradation and lower potency of flowers. You can’t be sure how your cannabis has been stored prior to the purchase, but you can take proper care of it from the moment you buy it.
If you don’t have a basement or a pantry where it is dark and cool enough for your cannabis, you can put your jars in drawers to eliminate light exposure. If your pantry is not exposed to light at all, you don’t even need a colored mason jar.
Avoid plastic bags
Chances are, if you started smoking weed back in high school, the first time you ever bought some it came in a Ziploc bag. Although many people use plastic bags for their cannabis, they are one of the worst storage options. Plastic bags won’t protect your supply from moisture, light, or air, which will quickly affect freshness of the cannabis. Aside from that, there is a risk of crushing the buds, which may result in the loss of of the trichomes, leaving you with a less potent herb. Speaking of trichomes, the static electricity produced inside plastic bags can damage or pull the trichomes from the buds, and nobody wants that.
Freezing your cannabis. Bad idea
Freezing your cannabis is not recommended for several reasons. One, the cannabis buds may have been frozen post-harvest by growers. Freezing cannabis again can degrade the buds and lead to bacterial growth. Another common problem with freezing is low temperatures cause the trichomes to become stiff like icicles and break off, reducing the potency of your buds.
Open your jars only when necessary
Finally, now that you’ve found the right jar for your weed and the perfect spot to stash the jar — try to leave it alone as much as possible.
Basically, the less you open, touch, and move your cannabis buds, the better. Constantly touching and moving your cannabis from one jar to another will lead to a loss of the trichomes. When touched, trichomes tend to stick to your hands rather than stay on the flower. Additionally, those terpenes that make your weed smell so nice are lost whenever you remove the cap. Losing them can influence the effects and taste of your herb. So, make sure to open your jar only when you are using your cannabis.
It’s exciting to have picture-perfect nugs. It’s natural to want to gaze at them as you hold them in the palm of your hand, or pour out on the table at night holding your phone just right to get the perfect shot. That’s understandable. But stored and treated right, your buds will last longer, taste better, and smell stronger — and you’ll reap the rewards.
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