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Does Weed Expire? How to Tell When Cannabis Goes Bad

While it doesn’t expire in the traditional sense, weed can last a year if kept in an airtight container. The main cannabinoids in cannabis, such as THC, can break down and transform and lose its medicinal properties.

Cannabis does not become unsafe after its expiration date, but it will lose potency and degrade in quality over time. Generally speaking, marijuana’s “expiration” is one year past the purchase date.

Beyond that point, it may taste musty or too dry/moist to consume safely without risking headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, or lung infections from mold growth.

Using medical cannabis when it’s fresh allows you to experience the full benefits of its ingredients.

The shelf life of cannabis or CBD items depends on:

  • The specific form it’s in, like oil drops, buds, or food items.
  • The amount of raw plant parts or fresh components it contains.

How to Tell if Your Cannabis is Expired?

Here are some obvious signs that your cannabis has gone bad: a strange smell, moldy appearance, and other indicators.

It Smells Bad

If you notice an odor of rotten eggs or something else that’s unfamiliar, it could be a sign your cannabis is no longer fresh. Experienced users may recognize the “skunky” smell often associated with certain strains.

You See Visible Molds

If you notice discolored spots and white fuzz, this is a sign that your weed has gone bad. Make sure to get rid of any old marijuana with signs of mold growth.

How to Check for Weed Mold

Cannabis is prone to two different types of mold: Powdery Mildew and Botrytis Blight (Gray Mold). While the former looks like white powder or fuzz, the latter can cause bud rot.

A study conducted by UC California Davis revealed that 20 samples bought from dispensaries had bacteria and mold present in them. It’s important to always check your cannabis closely before purchasing at a dispensary.

Changes in Texture

Pay attention to texture when buying cannabis. A fragile or crumbling raw flower could be a sign that it has passed its expiration date and should not be consumed.

Change in Taste

Cannabis has a unique and highly appreciated flavor when smoked or ingested. But if it’s past its expiration date, this taste can be lost due to a lack of moisture, which leads to a harsh taste and irritation in the throat.

Medical Cannabis Freshness Guide

The shelf life of cannabis products varies based on what form they’re in. While weed can remain usable for a long time, it’s important to take the general freshness guidelines into consideration for each type of cannabis you buy.

Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana can last anywhere from half a year to over a year. Following proper storage methods and being aware of signs of expiration allows you to get the most from your therapeutic cannabis.

The best way to know when it expires is to read the label or ask your pharmacist.

Tinctures

Out of all cannabis products, CBD tinctures have the longest shelf life. High-proof alcohol-infused tinctures can stay fresh for up to three years, provided they’re stored properly. On the other hand, oil-based tinctures can last for two years.

Cannabis Flower

Your cannabis flower’s lifespan will depend on how well-cured the flower or bud is and how well it is kept after buying it from the dispensary.

A well-cured flower (meaning it’s sufficiently dry) will stay free from mold and mildew for a longer period if you store it in a mason jar in a cool, dry place that is away from direct sunlight. Your cannabis flower can remain good for up to a year and a half if stored that way

Cannabis flowers can last up to 18 months in such conditions, losing potency after six months of being in the jar. It’s advisable to use fresh cannabis flower within six months.

Edibles

6 – 12 months

Cannabis gummies typically last 6 months to 1 year when stored in cool, dark conditions. Their longevity depends on ingredients, packaging, and storage. Over time, they may lose potency and alter in flavor and texture. It’s crucial to observe the expiration date and inspect for spoilage signs like unusual smells or color changes.

Edibles, such as cannabis-infused brownies and cakes, have a shorter shelf life compared to other cannabis products since they include ingredients like eggs and milk that spoil quickly. When made at home and stored in an airtight container, these edibles typically expire within two to three days.

Edibles purchased from dispensaries may contain preservatives that prolong their expiration dates, but they will still have a use-by date listed on the packaging. On the other hand, cannabis-infused candies tend to last longer than baked goods.

Due to their lack of perishable ingredients, they can have a shelf life of six to nine months. Note that these timelines are based on the original packaging and storage conditions. To ensure the longevity of all edibles, keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Removing them from their original packaging and transferring them to an airtight container can further extend their freshness and potency.

Rick Simpson Oil

About 10 years if stored properly

Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is usually produced through an alcohol infusion process, much like tinctures. When stored correctly, RSO can be expected to last around ten years before it needs to be replaced.

Hash and Wax

12-18 months

Hash and wax must also be stored somewhere cool and dry with minimal exposure to sunlight in order to prevent the breakdown of cannabinoids and terpenes as well as mold formation.

Hashish typically lasts around eighteen months (possibly a bit more), but can go bad if not properly kept, while wax concentrates such as budder or shatter could potentially last up to two years before their potency begins reducing after twelve to eighteen months.

Topicals

1-2 years

Cannabis topicals such as creams, oils, and gels can be stored in their original container and sealed after each use for up to two years.

Cannabis-infused cosmetics may also have a shelf life of up to two years, depending on the ingredients they contain. Soaps are alkaline, which helps preserve any cannabis content within them, potentially lasting longer than two years.

Vapes

6-12 months

Vape pens are made of vape oil and cannabis extracts that don’t include any plant material. If stored correctly, the potency of the vape pens can remain strong for up to two or three years without needing to be replaced. But there is no set expiration date on most vape pens so they may last even longer than this period.

How to Prevent Weed from Expiring

Store Your Cannabis in an Airtight Container

Store it in an airtight container, like a mason jar, to extend its freshness. Plastic bags and open containers allow oxygen and light to reach the flower, which will increase its rate of drying out.

Mason jars are both affordable and easy to find—even at many local dispensaries! By using these kinds of containers, you can expect your marijuana flower to last 6-12 months or more.

Mind the Humidity

Too much or too little humidity can have a negative impact on the weed’s quality.

The ideal range for optimal storage conditions should be between 59% and 63%. If it is above this, your bud will become overly moist, creating an environment susceptible to mold spores and bacteria growth.

If it drops below this mark, then your weed will dry out quicker, reducing its shelf life significantly. Fortunately, there are products such as humidity packs and humidors that allow you to maintain optimum levels of moisture.

Store Your Cannabis in a Cool, Dark Place

High temperature, moisture, or light can all cause the potency of weed to be reduced over time. Excess humidity also encourages mold growth on cannabis flowers so try to keep these at bay as much as possible.

Direct sunlight reduces THC levels by 0.5% per hour so it’s best avoided when storing marijuana flowers.

If temperatures are too cold, then you risk drying out the flower, which reduces flavor and potency. Ideal conditions should be between 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit (15-20°C).

Can You Freeze Cannabis Products?

Yes, but only if you require a short-term storage solution. Storing marijuana or CBD in the freezer for more than a few days can reduce its potency and degrade its quality.

You can freeze many cannabis products, including edibles and flowers. Freezing can be an effective way to extend their shelf life, especially for cannabis edibles like gummies or baked goods.

When freezing cannabis flowers, it’s important to do so in an airtight container to prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to mold. However, freezing might affect the texture and taste of some products. It’s always a good idea to check for specific storage recommendations for each type of cannabis product.

Remember that freezing does not improve quality; it merely preserves the current state of the product.

Explore the world of cannabis products with your medical marijuana card. Apply for one at TeleLeaf today.

Getting approved for your medical marijuana card has never been easier. But more importantly, our compassionate doctors will help you find relief, improve your health, and elevate the quality of your life.


Reference

A microbiome assessment of medical marijuana – CMI
https://www.clinicalmicrobiologyandinfection.com/article/S1198-743X(16)30605-X/fulltext

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