how long does weed stay fresh

There’s nothing better than fresh weed. The smell, the taste, the stickiness all make for a great experience. But if you’ve had some weed sitting around for a while, or you just found a stash in your ski bag or in the back of a drawer, you may be wondering “how long does weed stay fresh?” or “how long does weed last?” and you’re not alone.

Cannabis doesn’t necessarily have an expiration date, as you can safely consume it for as long as you like, but it will indeed lose potency over time which will result in a less than “high” feeling. If you’ve come across some weed from who knows when and want to smoke it, by all means, go ahead. What happens if you smoke super old weed? Not much, unfortunately. 

How Long Does Weed Stay Fresh?

Under ideal storage conditions, cannabis can actually last quite a while. What are the ideal storage conditions to keep weed fresh? Whether you have strong smelling flower, need to keep it safely away from children, or just want to get the bang for your buck and help your weed last long, there are some basic storage needs you’ll need:

  • Humidity control
  • Airtight or vacuum seal 
  • Zero light (natural or artificial)
  • Temperature control

When stored properly and with care, weed can last up to a year or longer. If you love having a selection of strains but don’t smoke all of them very often, a humidifier storage solution will be your best bet. Check out these rad and functional storage solutions from High Times.

Even if you store your weed in a plastic baggie in a drawer, you’ll still get a good six months out of it before it loses potency and goes through some pretty scientific changes.

The Science of How Long Weed Lasts

As with everything, science plays a major role in how long weed lasts and stays fresh. Even if your weed isn’t super fresh, you’re probably wondering if the THC stays potent.

When weed is left in unsavory conditions for too long, it can begin to decompose and the cannabinoid, THC, will actually change into CBN (cannabinol) which is known to be present in high amounts with aged weed. CBN is derived from tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A) and is created when THC-A oxidizes.

This oxidation happens over time as the chemicals and cannabinoids break down, and this process will reduce the potency of the weed. This is reason to consume your weed within six months of buying it. In addition to THC potency, the terpenes will also break down and that’s where flavor and scent are lost.

If you smoke old weed, it’ll likely look like dust and not smell or taste like much of anything. Dusty weed won’t harm you, it just won’t be pleasurable to smoke and it could make your throat feel scratchy or conjure up some coughs. In some cases, old bud can take on a bad taste or smell, and that’s when you want to stay away from testing it.

While it’s good to store your weed in a humidity controlled environment, too much humidity can grow mold and that’s a very bad thing. Don’t smoke spongy or moldy weed!

If you want to get really technical with it, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has outlined this super hand guide for THC potency over time.

  • After one year, weed loses roughly 16% of its THC
  • Two years in storage results in a loss of 26% of its THC
  • Weed loses 34% of its THC after three years.
  • After four years in storage, weed loses 41% of its THC

While it may be tempting to try some old buds you found in your ski pants from last year, it’s more than likely that you won’t get high and might be left with a bad taste in your mouth or an uncomfortable cough.

How to Tell if Your Weed is Too Old

If you’re not sure how long the weed in question has been in its hiding place, there are a few distinctive things you can look for to determine if it’s too old to enjoy.

  • It doesn’t have any smell and crumbles to dust when touched
  • It’s spongy and too damp, likely has mold on it
  • It doesn’t have any smell 

Overall, keeping your weed fresh is dependant on how it’s stored and where. It won’t kill you to smoke dry, dusty weed but it also won’t do much for you so it’s best to just toss it. Sorry. On the other hand, it’s definitely not good to smoke old weed that is spongy or moldy. This can make you super sick. 

Flower isn’t the only form of weed that can go bad. Edibles, concentrates, and vape pens are also all subject to time and the breaking down of cannabinoids that can rob cannabis of its potency. 

How to Keep Weed Fresh Longer

In addition to that rad list of containers and storage solutions from High Times there are some tried and true techniques to keep all your cannabis nice and fresh. You’ll still need to plan on consuming it within a year, but that’s a nice stretch that is easy enough to work with.

How to Keep Flower Fresh

Store in an airtight or vacuum-sealed container to keep air out and keep in anything that is emanating from the flower. Keep it in a cool, dry, dark place to keep it away from light damage, temperature fluctuations, or too much humidity.

How to Keep Edibles Fresh

Keep them in their original packaging in a cool, dry place. Hard candies and gummies can easily melt, and the refrigerator is the best bet for many types of edibles.

How to Keep Concentrates Fresh

Keeping concentrates in silicone will not only keep them fresh, but it’ll also be easier to extract them when you’re ready to smoke. Shatter is hard to separate from glass where silicone makes it super easy.

Does weed go bad?

Yes. Proper storage and a year timeframe is your goldilocks zone. Anything beyond that is going to be less potent than desired or even moldy. Inspect your old weed well before you decide to smoke it. And if you want to throw it away, come into The Spot 420 to reup on some of the dankest buds around.


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