Whether medical marijuana or your recreational smoke, knowing how to best store your cannabis can help extend its shelf life, conceal skunky smells, and prevent nasty molds from forming. Thankfully keeping your weed safe and sound is easy, and we have a plethora of tips in our article below. Let’s dive in.
Why You Should Store Your Cannabis Properly
Marijuana is just like any other herb, and in its lifespan from a growing bud to the smokable product on your shelf it can go through a number of different phases.
Most cannabis bud you’re likely to encounter has already been long taken from its mother plant – In a process called “curing”, fresh green marijuana is left to dry for a number of days (possibly even weeks) in a well-ventilated, temperature controlled environment.
Keeping Moisture In
This doesn’t mean that the cannabis in your possession is completely dried out, though, nor does it mean you can simply keep it hanging around in the open and expect it to be just as good & fresh as it is now. Moisture loss can negatively impact the effect of your marijuana, but the main issue comes in when trying to smoke it.
As anyone who’s ever tried to roll a joint of powdery bud that’s been left to become brittle can tell you this often leads to ripped papers and a harsh smoke that quickly disappears into thin air; the moisture content of cannabis is what helps give it a slower natural burn, meaning less of your joint being lost into the breeze.
…And Keeping Moisture Out
Unfortunately too much moisture can also have a detrimental – and much more dire – effect. Cannabis left exposed to the open air in high humidity areas can begin to mold and rot, and unfortunately there’s no coming back from that one: Smoking moldy cannabis can have serious health consequences.
When a moldy material is burned, the mycotoxins found within are not destroyed. Instead they’re transferred into the smoke, and further transferred into the lungs of whomever breathes said smoke in. Studies done on the subject of smoking moldy cigarettes or tobacco show signs of microbial colonization in the mouth, throat and lungs, leading to chronic inflammation and other toxic reactions. If you think your cannabis is moldy you need to dispose of it – Do not try to smoke it unless you want to land in the hospital.
No Smell, No Tell
Storing cannabis without any smell is also important for some (such as non-medical marijuana users), and proper storage will help block unwanted scents from escaping into the air. Though practicing good scent reduction can be a bit more involved than just throwing your weed in a storage container, if you’re successful at blocking the smell of your cannabis you’ll also be successful at properly storing it away.
How Long Can You Store Weed?
In theory, practically forever. But answering the question “how long does weed stay good” can be a bit trickier. The flower of the cannabis plant contains THC, terpenes, and other cannabinoids; working in concert, it’s this mixture of chemicals that give us our unique highs – Not just the THC present.
Unfortunately all of these cannabis chemicals are highly volatile, and when exposed to the elements (air, heat, etc.) they quickly begin breaking down and/or evaporating, diminishing the potency of your bud. Even with your best efforts in play, you should only expect to keep your cannabis flower at it’s peak for roughly six months to one year.
To keep your marijuana at it’s freshest is a matter of watching over four major factors: Light, Temperature, Air Exposure, and Humidity. Let’s go over how each one effects your cannabis and what you can do to mitigate them.
How UV Light Effects Cannabis Storage
Exposure to UV rays is dramatically detrimental to your cannabis. Studies show that light exposure is one of the largest factors in the degradation of marijuana, with even short-term exposure causing the natural breakdown of cannabinoids to rapidly increase. Though there’s little that can be done to stop this from happening, limiting exposure to harsh lights is the best (and only) way to help slow the process down.
Thankfully this is one of the easier criteria to check off on our list: Simply make sure to store your cannabis in a location without any (or much) light, and don’t leave it out when not in active use. Keep your weed tucked away in a dark, dry corner somewhere and you’re already helping extend it’s shelf life.
How Extreme Temperatures Effect Cannabis Storage
For temperature control, cannabis has a severe Goldilocks syndrome – Anything that isn’t “just right” can be bad, both too hot or too cold.
Your end goal temperature for marijuana is somewhere around 65°F-70°F, preferably on the lower end of the scale. Once exceeding 70°F-ish temperatures the moisture content of your cannabis will begin to evaporate out, both making your cannabis become brittle and potentially inviting harmful mold. The higher the temperature the greater the moisture loss will be, so try to keep your cannabis cool and comfortable.
Don’t Freeze Your Weed
Conversely, getting your weed too cold is also a bad thing. If looking to know if you can store your weed in the freezer, our recommendation is a semi-firm “no”. Any object that contains water (IE: most organic matter) will degrade when frozen, due to the now-crystalline water molecules literally piercing holes through said object’s cellular walls – This exposes the water to air, making it evaporate over time and taking precious trichomes with it.
Flash-freezing using a liquid nitrogen bath is a viable long-term option in the right setting, and exposure to cold temperatures can be beneficial if trying to make concentrates or hashish, but for the average home smoking enthusiast we still recommend keeping your cannabis out of the freezer and opting for the “dark corner” we mentioned above.
How Oxygen Exposure Effects Cannabis Storage
For what every other method on our list discusses, exposure to C02 does and potentially worse. Not only does air exposure wick away moisture it also helps to break THC down into CBN – An interesting and potentially beneficial chemical in it’s own right but one that is non-psychoactive (IE: will not get you high).
Much like light, oxygen exposure is not easy to completely negate, but can be mitigated with relative ease. Storing your cannabis in an air-tight container, such as mason jars or in covered plastic bowl (IE: Tupperware), and only removing it when needed is an excellent start.
If you want to truly limit air exposure as much as possible, we recommend using a resealable Ziplock-style bag first, squeezing out all the air before sealing it, and then placing it into your storage container, giving you a double level layer of protection.
If wanting more long-term storage where you won’t be opening the package every few hours to pack another bowl, investing in a food-grade vacuum machine can be a cheap and easy way to store your cannabis. Just seal according to your manufacturer’s directions and throw it into a cool, dark place like the back of your pantry, where it will store safely for the aforementioned 6-12 months.
How Humidity Effects Cannabis Storage
Out of all of our points on how to best store weed this one is the trickiest, and also one of the most important. Light, heat and air exposure all play a part in regulating humidity, and learning how to control this one factor will do the most for giving your cannabis it’s longest potential storage life.
The effects of low humidity all play into the other factors on this list; ultimately, moisture loss in your cannabis is a bad thing, meaning to control humidity you need to control the factors of light, heat, and air exposure all in one. If you’re the cigar-smoking type it may seem sensible to just toss your cannabis into your humidor, but these are typically designed specifically for tobacco, not marijuana, and can end up either saturating your cannabis with moisture or giving it odd flavors.
Moisture Control Packets for Cannabis
The easiest solution for humidity control can be an add-in packet designed for maintaining relative humidity (RH), such as Boveda. Often sold in the form of small packs (similar in size to a sugar packet or wet nap) these sachets contain a blend of purified water and salts that help keep humidity levels optimal in any given container.
Though different sizes can be purchased the smallest ones work well for sticking in your average mason jar, giving you a much greater level of relative humidity control. Boveda in particular aims for about two months of humidity-regulating power before needing to be replaced, which at their price point is hard to argue with for those seeking out a cheap, simple storage solution.
Special-Built Cannabis Humidors
If you’re not afraid of dropping some cash the Cannador company offers a variety of custom-built humidor systems, specifically designed to keep weed at it’s freshest long-term. Sizes vary, with varying models holding anywhere from 4 to 9 jars of cannabis, and come with their own special set of jars and lids. These humidors come with their own removable humidity beads, but are also compatible with humidity packets (such as the aforementioned Boveda) if you’d prefer.
Get a Hygrometer
Regardless of solution, if you’re serious about maintaining the proper relative humidity of your cannabis we also recommend spending the extra cash on a hygrometer. A hygrometer is a device that helps tell the humidity (and usually temperature) in an environment, making it easy to ensure that, when you store your cannabis, it’s staying at the RH you desire. Basic models can be found cheaply at any big-box retail outlet, though ordering a digital Bluetooth monitoring system can be helpful if in an unpredictable environment or otherwise responsible for trying to store a large amount of weed.
How Do You Store Other Cannabis Products?
Each type of weed product has its own unique storage requirements, but we’ll list some of them here briefly just for the sake of completeness.
Storing Cannabis Edibles
Easily a topic all of its own, storing your edible properly will depend on the type of edible it is, though trying to keep your edibles cool and completely sealed (IE: not exposed to air) are always smart tips. Throwing your leftover brownie in a Tupperware and into the fridge never hurt anyone; just remember to keep it sealed off from air exposure.
Storing Cannabis Seeds
Humidity is also important here, but in the opposite way from cannabis flower – You want as little moisture exposure as possible. Keeping your seeds dry and out of high temperatures is important, so we recommend sealing them up in a mason jar and placing them as far back as you can into the cool, dark, dry area of your choice.
Storing Cannabis Concentrates
Like with edibles this will depend on your concentrate, but the same basic rules as always apply – Avoid exposure to light, heat, and air, and keep them sealed up. Humidity control isn’t as important with most concentrates but you still don’t want them pointlessly exposed to moisture, so make sure they’re sealed up tight when not in use.
We hope our article on how to best store your weed has given you some good tips & pointers. Remember: When trying to store cannabis, keeping it out of the elements is the first line of defense, and weed kept in a dark, cool, dry place is happy weed. Enjoy!