How to Tell If Cannabis Is Past Its Prime
Weed doesn’t go bad the way a jar of mayo or some other food product might, but it can definitely be “off” or even moldy.
Old weed likely won’t lead to any serious health issues if you don’t have any underlying conditions.
It can, however, have a noticeable drop in potency, which can be a big deal if you’re using it for medical purposes. Older weed can also undergo changes in taste and texture.
When stored properly (more on this later), dried cannabis keeps for 6 months to 1 year. Over time, it begins to lose its aroma and potency.
According to some older research, weed loses roughly 16 percent of its THC after 1 year, and it just keeps dropping from there:
- 26 percent THC lost after 2 years
- 34 percent THC lost after 3 years
- 41 percent THC lost after 4 years
It’s mostly in the smell. Weed that’s past its prime will smell different or lose its aroma entirely. Some weed might even smell and taste harsh when it’s been sitting too long.
Its appearance can also give you a clue as to whether or not it’s old. Fresh weed shouldn’t crumble or feel spongy when you break it off. If it does, it’s old and either too dry or too moist.
Consuming it shouldn’t harm you, but be prepared for changes in texture and potency. The exception is weed that’s grown mold, which could potentially make you sick.
Mold is often hard to see unless you look very closely. It typically looks like white powdery or fuzzy spots, some of which can be pretty small.
Moldy weed usually smells musty, kind of like hay. It also tends to have a bit of an “off” taste.
Even if your weed isn’t super old, it’s best to do a mold inspection. A study by researchers from University of California, Davis found bacteria and mold on 20 cannabis samples bought from dispensaries and pot growers in Northern California.
Mold on weed isn’t likely to cause major health problems, but it can lead to nausea, vomiting, and coughing.
In people with weakened immune systems, inhaling smoke or vapors from weed containing bacteria or fungi could cause serious illness or even death.
If it looks or smells off, then you’re better off tossing it, even if you just bought it.
Light, humidity, temperature, and oxygen can all mess with cannabis and affect its aroma, taste, and potency potential.
Here’s what to consider when storing weed to help keep it fresh and maintain its quality for as long as possible.
Choose the right container
Ditch plastic baggies and containers. Plastic holds static that can affect delicate trichomes — the tiny, crystal-like hairs on flowers that produce cannabinoids and terpenes — and mess with potency.
And forget those funny little tins, too, because they let in too much oxygen.
Glass jars with an airtight seal, like mason jars, are the way to go. They don’t have any static charge and limit oxygen exposure. Plus, they’re inexpensive and easy to find.
Most dispensaries also sell containers designed to keep weed fresh for as long as possible.
If you have kids or pets in your household, invest in a child- and pet-proof container.
Watch the humidity
Weed is best kept at a relative humidity of 59 to 63 percent. Any higher and you run the risk of trapping moisture, which can lead to the growth of mold. Anything lower can cause your weed to dry out.
To help you preserve your stash, you can add humidity packs to your containers if you really want to get fancy. You can also go the extra mile and store your weed in a humidor made specifically for cannabis.
Keep it cool, dark, and dry
Keeping weed in a cool and dry spot away from sunlight is as important as the container you use, if not more so.
Direct sunlight can cause cannabis to break down, and too much heat can hold moisture and lead to mold.
Keeping it somewhere too chilly, on the other hand, could dry it out and lose those precious trichomes, which is why the fridge and freezer aren’t recommended.
Aim to store cannabis in a dark place, like a closet or cabinet, with a temperature below 77°F (25°C).
Weed doesn't go bad in the way perishable food does, but it can definitely degrade over time. Here's what to look for.
PSA: Don’t Smoke Those Stems
These are crazy times, so it’s not that weird that you’re looking at your bowl of weed stems and contemplating smoking them. Waste not, want not, right?
As nice as it is to reduce waste and be resourceful, smoking stems isn’t the way to go.
If stems are all you have left, then you’ve already smoked the good stuff.
Stems contain almost no THC. What little may be in there doesn’t even come close to being enough to produce a high.
The negligible amount of THC in stems isn’t worth the unpleasant effects and risk to your lungs that come with smoking.
Inhaling smoke harms your lungs. It doesn’t matter if it’s bud, seed, tobacco, or burning wood. Toxins and carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) are released from the combustion of materials, even stems. This damages your lungs and increases your risk for cancer and heart and lung diseases.
Smoke effects aside, smoking stems can cause:
- a raging headache
- a sore throat
It’ll also taste like you’re smoking wood chips.
Some people on Reddit and other forums who admit to having smoked weed stems also reported uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms, like nausea and abdominal pain.
Nope. You shouldn’t smoke those either.
Marijuana seeds aren’t going to get you high no matter how many you crush and smoke. There’s just not enough THC in the seeds to produce any effects.
Lighting them up will create a lot of snap, crackle, and pop. The acrid smoke will irritate your throat and damage your lungs like other smoke. But that’s about it.
Stems and seeds aren’t worth smoking, but that doesn’t mean they’re entirely useless. You may be able to use lingering stems and seeds. Exactly what you can do with them depends on how many you have.
If you just have a few seeds kicking around, you could plant them and try growing your own stash (if you live in an area where this is permitted, of course).
Have an abundance of stems and seeds to play with? Consider eating it.
Here are some ways to make it appetizing.
Brew some stem tea
Before getting your brew on, you’ll want to bake the stems on a baking sheet in the oven for around 45 minutes at 225°F (107°C). When done, let the stems cool, and then grind them up.
Put your ground stems in a tea diffuser and let them steep in boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. If you don’t have a diffuser, you can steep your ground stems in a pot of boiling water and then place a coffee filter over your mug and pour so it strains your brew.
Make stem butter
Who doesn’t like butter?
Just like when making tea from weed stems, you’ll want to bake your stems in the oven at 225°F (107°C) for 45 minutes and let them cool before grinding.
Place some butter in a pan and melt over low heat. Once the butter’s completely melted, add the ground stems and let simmer for around 30 minutes, stirring often.
To strain it, cheesecloth works best. Just secure the cheesecloth over a glass jar with a rubber band, and slowly pour the butter over the cloth. Let the butter cool and — voilà — stem butter!
It might be tempting to smoke all those stems that are gathering dust in your jar, but you may want to think twice before lighting up.