Does weed expire? Like Robert Frost poetically explained, “nothing gold can stay,” unfortunately, this holds true for weed, too.
While your weed won’t have a hard-and-fast expiry date like your bread will, weed can undoubtedly go bad if it’s taken care of and stored under the right conditions. However, telling whether or not it’s still good to smoke can be challenging if you don’t know how to recognize the signs.
If this describes you, don’t worry – today, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about telling fresh, dank weed from expired, old weed!
Does Weed Expire?
Weed won’t expire the same way yogurt or meat might, but it can definitely ‘go bad.’
High-quality cannabis should last for up to one year in proper storage, though; ideally, tokers should smoke it within six months to enjoy optimal taste and freshness. After that, it will degrade in quality as it sits, even if kept in a tightly sealed container.
A study revealed that cannabis that has been stored for one year will show an approximately 16% decrease in THC content and will continue to degrade year on year, with a 27% reduction after two years, 35% after three years, and 41% after four years.
Now, this doesn’t mean that cannabis that has been stored for a long time is unusable. It may still have the potential to be renewed or repurposed, which we’ll explore further below. But, first, you need to assess whether your stash is salvageable by checking the five attributes we’ll discuss in the next section.
How to Know if Your Weed Has Gone Bad
While most of us can tell when the food in our fridge has expired, it isn’t always as easy to know with weed. Here’s what you should look at when assessing whether your stash is still smokable.
The first thing to check for in the appearance of your weed is visible mold. Cannabis that has been stored in a damp or humid environment can develop patches of fuzzy hairs on the surface of the bud. When this happens, your bud isn’t salvageable anymore and needs to be thrown away – cutting away the moldy bits won’t save it.
If there are no moldy patches on your bud, the next thing to be checked is the colour. Fresh weed is vibrant, with green buds and colourful pistils, whereas older weed looks pale and dull. Older weed will still be good to smoke, but the smoke it’ll produce will be harsher and less flavourful than its fresh counterpart.
Cannabis that has gone ‘bad’ will be moist to the touch and squishy when squeezed. Again, this marks the presence of mold. Sometimes, mold develops on the inside of the bud, making it difficult to tell it’s really there unless you go in for a squish test.
Fresh, high-quality bud will be slightly sticky to the touch due to the presence of trichomes on the bud’s surface, but if it’s moist or feels ‘sweaty,’ it’s best to throw it out. On the other hand, if your nugs feel hard, dehydrated, and break apart easily when handled gently, it’s still good to smoke; it’s just dried out!
The enticingly pungent smell of fresh bud is instantly recognizable. No matter the strain, fresh weed will offer users a waft of its terpene profile that’s noticeable as soon as the bag or jar it’s stored in is open.
As weed ages, its bright, fresh scent loses potency. Older, more dried-out weed might not smell as strong or as nice, but it should still have an undeniably “weedy” smell to it. If your weed’s gone bad, you’ll be able to tell instantly through scent alone. Unlike fresh weed, moldy weed will smell sweaty, sour and musty.
Always give your bud a sniff before smoking it—if it smells musty or doesn’t smell like anything, it’s probably better to throw it out.
While old, stable cannabis is unpleasant to smoke, it’ll still definitely get you high. The weed’s terpenes will have most likely evaporated so that it won’t taste much in the flavour department, but it should still taste more or less like the weed you’re used to smoking.
A word of warning, though: old weed will taste incredibly harsh and dry. If regular, fresh weed is enough to irritate your throat and cause a coughing fit, then you should throw it in the bin and buy a new dime bag instead!
Say you can push past the texture, smell, and bad flavour; smoking old weed will still get you high, but not as high as it would’ve if it were fresh. Remember the study that measured how cannabis degrades when it’s stored? Even if it’s been stored properly, its THC potency will still drop by 16% after a year, with more drops in subsequent years.
Damp cannabis is more likely to develop mold, so if your cannabis feels spongy, give it a thorough check-through. Even if you don’t see any fuzzy grey-white spots on the outside of your buds, you may notice it when you break them apart for grinding. Moldy weed needs to be discarded as ingesting mold spores can lead to serious health issues.
How to Keep Weed Fresh
How long weed stays fresh is determined by more than just how it’s stored. Skilled cannabis growers know precisely when to harvest their buds, using trichomes (the frosty hairs that coat the outside of cannabis flower) to gauge when peak ripeness is reached. Trichomes shift in colour from white to amber, which is the point when most growers choose to harvest. (As trichomes darken and turn red, the quality starts to degrade.)
Cannabis buds are then cured in a temperature-controlled chamber to allow moisture to evaporate. As discussed above, excess moisture will lead to mold, so the cannabis must be properly dried before being packaged.
High-quality, properly harvested cannabis should have a shelf-life of at least six months, as long as it’s also properly stored.
To keep your weed fresh, store it in a well-sealed container such as a mason jar, away from direct sunlight. Humidity packs are a great investment for maximizing shelf life. They are designed to be placed either directly into your jar or tucked into the lid, and they should be replaced every four months.
The idea that storing weed in the freezer will keep it fresher longer is a myth. Freezing temperatures can cause faster degradation of your weed’s THC content.
For more information on proper weed storage protocols, including the scientific reasons, be sure to check out our guide on “how to keep weed fresh.”
Does Weed Expire? Important Information to Know
Cannabis that has any mold growth has to be thrown away. Tokers cannot save moldy cannabis, and you risk your health if you try to consume it.
If you’ve got a small amount of older weed that you feel bad throwing away, try mixing it into your fresh flower. The harsher taste of the old bud will be less noticeable when mixed with fresh cannabis.
Weed that’s dried out can often be revived. A simple way to do this is to place a piece of citrus peel into a sealed container with your crunchy cannabis, allow the rind to rehydrate the flower slowly. It’ll also infuse a subtle flavour into your bud, so use the peel of fruit you enjoy because you’ll taste it when you smoke it!
This method doesn’t take long, so make sure to open the jar and check your progress frequently to avoid over-hydrating your bud. The citrus peel technique works best on small quantities of cannabis you’re planning to smoke immediately, as cannabis that’s been rehydrated this way tends to go moldy faster.
Stale, dried weed can also be used to make edibles. Cannabis edibles are made by heating (decarboxylating) cannabis and then infusing it into oil or butter. The decarboxylation process dries the cannabis out, so if you’re cooking with cannabis, using older weed isn’t a big deal, and you probably won’t even notice a difference in taste once it’s mixed into whatever tasty concoction you’re preparing.
Since your weed doesn’t come stamped with an expiration date, it’s up to you to keep it properly stored to retain its freshness. Stashing your stash in a cool cupboard in an air-tight container is the best way to keep your bud tasty and smokable.