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How to Tell if Your Stash of Weed Has Gone Bad

Avoid the conundrum by just storing it well in the first place.

Let’s say you chance upon a stash of weed you forgot about some time back. Happy day! But … is it even good? You don’t even remember stowing it away, let alone when you bought it. Can you still smoke it?

Can Weed Go Bad?

The good news is, weed doesn’t really “go bad;” its chemical makeup just changes. Marijuana is a plant, just like the veggies and herbs in your kitchen. Cells break down, molecules oxidize. Just as the dried oregano in your spice rack becomes less flavorful over time, weed becomes less potent. Old weed won’t kill you, but it also won’t get you all that high.

How to Store Weed

The best way to avoid this question in the first place is to store your weed properly. Glass or ceramic containers are your best bet. You want to make sure the container is airtight, and won’t transfer smells or flavors onto your precious weed. Store your pot in a dark, cool refuge that’s not your refrigerator or freezer — too cold environments can suck the sweet, sweet moisture out of those leaves.

Fresh weed is full of the cannabinoids CBD, CBC, and THC, but sit your weed down for a bit in ultraviolet light (i.e., sunlight), and your THC will break down into CBN, a cannabinoid that is way less potent and much more disappointing. Basically: Keep your weed in a still, dark, cool environment, and you’re guaranteed the best flavor.

But let’s say you didn’t get around to storing your weed like you should have, and now you’re stuck with a Ziploc bag of mystery marijuana that may or may not be good.

Appearance

If your recently discovered stash doesn’t look much like weed anymore, just some dried out powdery leaves, it’s probably not going to be all that enjoyable to smoke. If you spot a fuzzy white powder growing on it, your weed is moldy and you definitely shouldn’t smoke it, unless you want to risk heart and lung problems. Mold spores, like moist places without a lot of airflow, which can happen if you store your weed where it’s too moist.

Sound

When you pull apart your re-discovered weed in your hands, you should hear snaps, not crackles, which can mean your weed is too dry. If your weed is silent, it has a lot of moisture, and you should be on the lookout for mold.

Smell

If your old stash smells musty, or like urine or a locker room, mold is probably the culprit. Chemical or plastic scents are a result of poor storage or pesticide contamination. Old weed might not smell as strong as the day you stuck it somewhere and forgot about it, but it shouldn’t have any off smells. Weed should smell like weed.

Taste

If it looks like your old stash is free of mold, and you decide to light some up, you’ll know pretty quickly if it’s really gone bad just by the taste. It should still taste like weed, without off flavors.

Smoking poor quality weed won’t hurt you (with the exception of mold) — it just won’t be quite as enjoyable as the fresh stuff. You probably won’t get as high thanks to a lower THC content, but that’s about it. Enjoy your re-discovered stash!

Avoid the conundrum by just storing it well in the first place.

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. ]]>