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How long is my cannabis good for? Leafly’s guide to storing cannabis

January 14, 2015

At some point in our cannabis careers, we’re all posed with the question, “How long is my cannabis good for?” Maybe you’ve found a few nugs tucked in your winter jacket from last year’s ski trip, or when harvesting a medical crop you may need a way to safely store the excess buds until you’re ready to consume the fruits of your labor.

Like a fine wine cellar or whiskey barrel, cannabis is best when aged in a cool, dark place, and while there is no steadfast expiration date for cannabis, there are a few key elements to consider when storing cannabis for any extended period.

Explore marijuana storage options

Ideal temperatures for storing cannabis

Mildew and other molds on cannabis and other organic matter thrive in temperatures between 77° and 86° F, so basic precautions of keeping your cannabis in a cool, dark place will go a long way. Excessive heat can dry out the cannabinoids and terpenes that have taken months to develop. When these essential oils get too dry along with plant material, it can result in a hot, harsh smoke.

Lower temperatures also slow the process of decarboxylation of cannabinoids, the process in which THCA converts into the intoxicating cannabinoid THC. THC eventually degrades into CBN, a cannabinoid with different effects and properties. Additionally, warm air holds more moisture than cold air, which brings us to the next consideration.

Related

What Is CBN (Cannabinol) & What Are the Benefits of This Cannabinoid?

Humidity factors for cannabis storage

Humidity control is paramount to keeping mildew and other mold contaminants away from your cannabis. Keeping your cannabis stored in a controlled environment with the proper relative humidity (RH) ranges can be a bit of a balancing act, but the general consensus is to keep cannabis between 59% and 63% RH when stored to maintain and enhance color, consistency, aroma, and flavor.

Related

What Influences Degradation of THC and Other Cannabinoids?

Keeping your RH below 65% reduces the chances for mold to occur. However, if your RH drops too low, you risk your trichomes becoming brittle and drying out the essential oils.

Light settings for storing cannabis

Harmful UV rays break down many organic and synthetic materials. Similar to the way your grass turns brown at the end of a long sunny summer, or how a car’s paint begins to fade when it is not garaged, UV rays will degrade your cannabis over time.

A study conducted at the University of London in the 1970s concluded that light was the single biggest factor in the degradation of cannabinoids. The same study concluded that cannabinoids maintain stability for up to two years when stored under the proper conditions, though it can remain effective and safe to consume for much longer as the essential oils slowly break down over time. Storing your cannabis out of direct light will also help you control the temperature.

Air control for cannabis storage

weed being stored in air tight jars

While cannabis needs oxygen during growing and curing, storing your cannabis in a container with just the right amount of air is crucial to keeping it fresh and true to its original form. Having too little air can greatly affect the relative humidity, especially if the buds are not completely dried before storage.

Too much air, on the other hand, will speed up the degradation process as the cannabinoids and other organic matter are exposed to oxygen. There are a variety of hand and electric vacuum pump attachments available for canning jars that will help you minimize oxygen exposure.

How to store your cannabis

Do – store out of direct sunlight in a cool, dry place

Do – store in containers with a neutral charge, like glass jars.

Do – use hygrometers or products like Boveda to monitor and control RH levels

Do – vacuum seal jars and containers to minimize oxygen exposure

Do – separate your strains to maintain their individual flavor profiles

Do – look for the many exciting new ways to store your cannabis. The cannabis industry is growing every day, with new products and companies like Cannador and The Bureau designing solutions for all of your cannabis storage needs.

How not to store your cannabis

Don’t – store in the refrigerator. The fluctuations in humidity and temperature can actually increase your chance of mold and mildew.

Don’t – store in the freezer. Freezing temperatures cause the fragile trichomes to become brittle and break off like little icicles when handled.

Don’t – store in plastic bags or containers. Plastic often has a static charge that can attract precious trichomes. If you must use a plastic bag, only use it for short-term storage of small quantities of cannabis.

Don’t – store above or around electronics or appliances that give off heat. Heat rises — instead, store your cannabis in a low cupboard, shelf, or in the basement of your house, much like a wine cellar.

Don’t – use a tobacco humidor. Most use cedar wood, which has oils that transfer and can influence the flavors of your cannabis. They also tend to employ sponges that use propylene glycol to regulate humidity and can oversaturate your cannabis.

Don’t – store grinders, pipes, or other paraphernalia with your cannabis. The ash and resin from burnt cannabis tends to linger and will stink up any storage container. Also, it is simply good etiquette to keep your supplies separate and clean.

Other factors for storing your marijuana

Products infused with cannabis, such as edibles and other perishable creations, will have different storage guidelines. We do not recommend that you store these items for long periods of time. Follow the directions on the package and store your edibles similar to ordinary, food-based items.

Alcohol tinctures and other cannabis concentrates seem to be less susceptible to mold and other contaminants due to the reduced amount of bio matter. However, we still recommend following the basic guidelines outlined above to protect potency and minimize possible contamination.

  • UR

    Absolutely good info for someone out there. Thanks!

  • Katherine Tildes

    thank you!

  • disqus_kWQIWAHaOm

    Good information especially useful to medical growers who produce more bud than can be immediately consumed. I’ve had legal med grows for a number of years, summer outdoors only. My outdoor plants have often yielded 8-16 z’s each times 4-6 plants so I’ve been experimenting with storage and prolonging the shelf life of bud for years, since this is entirely medical. I agree with the Do’s and Don’t’s here with one exception. I store all my bud in a dedicated bud refrigerator that never gets opened except when I pull out a new working stash – so it’s rare for the bud to be exposed to light or someone rummaging through the fridge. I’ve discovered stopping short of drying bud entirely – leaving just a bit of moisture – then refrigerating at 42-45 degrees in mason jars works great. Bud I grind 2-3 years after harvest typically has a beautiful aroma. Right now I have still-great 4 yo trainwreck and 3 yo blue dream that still rocks! This method works for kief, as well. So far I’ve never had bud go bad unless I screwed up and failed to securely tighten the lid on a mason jars. This article is correct, in my experience, that freezer storage eventually degrades bud.

    • BudVac has 1lb glass containers for growers, and you can get one of the automatic vacuum pumps or use the manual one that comes with each unit.

  • Joe Wilson

    Great information, but I have a few questions about storage. When I buy weed, I like to bring it home and grind it all up to make it easier to put into my Palm vaporizer and smoke. I will store the remainder of the ground weed in my used medicine containers that come from the pharmacy. They are a see-through orange with a child protective lid. Am I doing okay or making a mistake?

    • Frantic

      No you’re not according to many sources from leafly to professionals on YouTube you would be smart to research using the search box here on leafly for starters…NO plastic , never grind more than your immediate amount needed for immediate use , etc

      • Thomy

        Sorry Frantic but you’re mistaken… The amber colored plastic on medicine bottles does not contain anything harmful to Cannabis. It’s a specially made plastic for storing medicine. Ground up Cannabis will easily keep fine for up to 6 months if kept in those containers. I do not recommend freezing it in these containers or storing it longer than about 6 months.

        • Frantic

          I don’t like it nor trust plastic for storage of my flower or for my produce as I have a very sensitive palette and can taste and smell far more than I care to sometimes so I shall keep on using glass to store my stuff . Plastic has so many cons …

          • Thomy

            Of course glass or porcelain would be better but there’s no residue or odor given off of the amber colored plastic used to make medicine bottles that can seep into the Cannabis at all and I’ll stand by those words… The same is true about the use the black and white photographic bottles. The plastic only needs to be “food safe”. If what you’re saying is totally true, I hope you don’t eat steak or other meats unless it’s wrapped in butcher paper and we all know butcher paper will not last in the freezer as long as plastic wrapped meats. Your glass jars should be “colored” as well. The very best UV protective color is green and amber is next. Cheers !!

          • Frantic

            No I don’t generally buy/eat much steak Mostly I prefer fresh produce, seafood , chicken over red meat , so and I don’t like stuff frozen for long I don’t trust plastic 100% my glass is canning jars kept in the dark put away out of light and air space with my boveda packs inside works fine for me for almost a year now

          • Sam Tegg

            Wow… We totally care about your diet and NOT the plastic issues you were bringing up…

          • Frantic

            Apparently enough that you took time out of your very busy day to reply lol then don’t bother ah

    • Thomy

      Perfect place to store small quantities that will be used swiftly but not such a good idea to store at room temperatures for over 6 months….

  • mike dannunzio

    Super interesting, just went through all of my strains labeling sides and tops and put them in air tight plastic containers. 2 day project, well not really a project just plain ole rainy day medicating. But after reading this and great replies I will be changing my ways. To much to lose. Thanks everyone

  • Yashveer

    m storing my stock in a plastic bottle is it fine ?????

    • TroubleTheGreyhound

      your stock might end of tasting like plastic. at least get mason jars. use 64 oz jars to store 1 – 2 oz, depending on how much fits (without forcing it into the jar). u can get 6 – 64 oz jars @ walmart for around $12. they are re-usable, just make sure u wash them with ivory detergent and make sure u thoroughly rinse and dry

    • Michael Perkins

      no. do not use plastic. it may have a static charge.

    • Thomy

      Read my comments above and adhere to them and you be happier than a pig eating lettuce heads…

    • No but using your shift lock key is.

  • https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f03f0ff255d92ae947d016434869eef6ab2a0ada913fcab79f433af86003dbd1.png

    Use a BudVac. All glass container and comes with a Vacuum pump to remove the air. http://www.budvac.com

  • Jaime Rodriguez

    How bout vac seal (plastic) in small quantitys and refrigerating?

    • If you took the time to read the article you would realize that plastic that is not anti-static is NOT recommended.
      Also the device that you keep your food fresh in is in general is overly COLD.

      • Sy Katus

        I started working as a cook at the age of 13. I am 72 now.
        I was a hash dealer in the late 60’s and sold pounds at a time of pollen hash for $800 per pound.
        I have some knowledge of the way weed was distributed and stored from old books and experience.
        Weed was compressed into bricks to get the air out and wrapped in paper.
        Before plastic bags for quantities became popular broken bricks were kept in paper bags.
        It was sold in local stores in the late 70’s and early 80’s in Brooklyn It was most often, always the same really good Jamaican, in prepacked manila coin envelopes of 2.3 or more grams for $5.
        Better quality Jamaican sensi sold for about 1.8 grams for $5 in smaller coin envelopes. Hawaiian sensi for $10 per gram, Pollen Hash for $100 per ounce in the Lebanese grocery.
        I already said a cool dry dark place is recommended. I have a found a cool spot in a comfortably cool room is sufficient. I have had weed in my personal supply years and it was still good.
        The issues I have had with plastic is experiential. There are some plastics that have adverse effects on the buds potency and enjoy ability. But this is not true of all plastics. I used plastic bags from a pharmacy such as Rite-Aid without the adverse effects. It is likewise with gas lighters. Ones from the far east are especially detrimental to the smoking person be it with tobacco or the Weed. The only lighter I would use is a USA lighter called BIC. I spent years using matches or lit cigs, not using lighters because of this very phenomena, Plastic can sometimes be weird chemically effecting the weed and it can melt, glass can break. Use at your own risk, mindful of likely problems. I don’t think weed needs more than a relatively cool, dry, mostly air tight (to prevent air pollution too), relatively dark environment most of the time that it is stored to survive and be enjoyable. Often longer curing proves to mellow weed.

  • Rømmekongen

    Would filling your glass jars with Nitrogen (not liquid) prior to storing them dark and cold be wise? To get rid of all the Oxygen.

    • Are you equipped certified to handle chemistry that is not available to the population at large?
      Are you familiar with the properties of glass? And by virtue of your question, my response would be:
      There is an inherent danger when treading beyond ones depth.
      Also the storage should be dark and COOL , not cold. huge difference.

      • Michael Perkins

        he did say gas nitrogen, same as placing in a car tire. BUT, no OP you do not want to do that for the above reasons, plus you do need SOME oxygen in the jar. Ive kept herbs in a standard mason jar, in a low shelf of a closet in the central area of my house for up to 6 months with minimal issue.

        • Thomy

          Michael, I’m surprised you wrote that. It’s true, a container or canister does need some air while curing but once it’s cured it has no need for air while being stored PERIOD….

      • Thomy

        Your wrong David about one thing. Once the Cannabis is properly cured, air tight freezing in storage canisters is the very best way to store Cannabis. The article is wrong buddy… Glass is already brittle and adding Nitrogen to a jar of Cannabis would not serve any purpose other than to make the glass even more brittle and rather dangerous.

        • Sy Katus

          Okay try this. Take a small amount of weed you really like and seal it up good. Than put it in the freezer. days later take it out and smoke it. What do you think about freezing weed now.
          Old school was store in a cool dark dry air tight place.

      • Sy Katus

        I have lived in cold climates and in my experience exposure to cold does not necessarily hurt weed quality but refrigeration does. Why? I never stored weed in the natural cold of a winter so I can not say about storage in naturally cold areas. I can only say refrigeration (in a food frig) always hurt my weed quality when ever I tried it.

  • The bit on NOT storing in a refrigerated environment, I come out of the
    print industry and in high quality multi color imaging, humidity,
    temperature, and light at the UV end of the spectrum, are all aspects
    that must be closely monitored. I have found that with my farming there
    are a great deal of cross over factors.
    I agree that the device you use to keep your food fresh should not be used

    for chemistry storage, as it is overly cold, and accessed far to often.

    And there are safety issues.

    One would at this point in history be hard pressed to find a refrigerator

    that is not frost free. In that the appliance is equipped with the capacity to

    remove the moisture that is attracted to cold in a hot environment.

    I like to control my shop and it’s storage facility environments to the conditions
    that exist at about 15 to 30 feet under ground. So an ambulant temp of
    55 degrees + or – 2 degrees. RH of about 68, constant.
    So a heating device as well as a dehumidifier and a cooling device.
    And in the storage areas, dim light on an as needed bases.
    This is the criteria that I use for all of my critical storage needs. Such
    as all medications, photographic supplies and it’s chemistry, chemistry
    for most every thing that I use, dimension critical paper stock.
    I have been perfecting this over past decades, since about 1988.
    And has served me well. In the storage of any excesses of cannabis.

  • Grant Allman
  • Dwayne Duvenhage

    Does anyone know how long Cannabis oil last and what the proper storage methods are? please help 🙂

    • Thomy

      All Cannabis has three common enemies “heat, light and water”. This is why most medicine bottles are colored “amber”. Store your oil in the freezer at 0 degrees F. It will last a very long time. The article is wrong about freezing……. Nice thought but freezing the stuff and not disturbing it is the best way to store PERIOD…….

      • Sy Katus

        Take some weed your smoking and enjoy and put a small quantity in a airtight well protected container, Then put it in your freezer. Then take it out after a day or two, Smoke the weed. Was it helpful to the weed to be frozen or did it hurt the weeds quality. You decide before you freeze your larger quantities.

  • TTS

    Greetings! Some useful information here, but I can clearly tell the article was written by someone with little to no growing experience. I am old school. I learned before the internet and when grow/curing/storage information was limited – but very god – and difficult to obtain. Degraded tricomes do not produce harsh smoke, just a shitty high and unfavourable tasting smoke. Harsh smoke comes ENTIRELY from excess fertilizer/ poor flushing and improper curing methods.

    You are correct to say that tricomes are quite fragile, but storing in moderate temps for long periods – many months – will degrade the THC to headache-inducing canibinoids like CBN. The BEST way to store MJ long term IS refrigeration, or preferably freezing. The key to success with either is a proper dry and cure, and storage containers. When the stems snap, moisture content is right. But proper curing is an art and requires constant monitoring. A controlled humidor-type device at about 68-70 degrees. A good cure can be obtained in about 2-3 weeks if done right. Curing is important after a proper dry to eliminate any residual nitrate and nitrite in plant material. Environment enzymes do their work and eat up what remains after flushing. Airtight storage containers, after dry and cure, put in a deep freeze will keep the product perfect for long periods. Up to a year or even longer.

    • Mike

      Ola, Micheal w Ringing Cedars Co.
      I was hopeful you might tell me your best kept method with the initial hanging and drying of a 70 plus plants. This is my first without training wheels :)… good stuff my friend and I am a man who realizes how much I don’t know in life now. Any help is appreciated..

    • Sy Katus

      Okay try this. Take a small amount of some weed you like. Place it in a proper container and then put it in the freezer or refrigerator. The next day take it out and try it. What do you think of putting weed in the freezer or refrigerator after this experiment.

      • Sam Tegg

        have you removed any excess air in the tub to make sure this process works or are you just throwing it in there without even considering this effect????

        Think before you make comparisons like that… It is your process that is flawed and NOT the method.

        • Michael Costantino

          I have used plastic Rubbermaid containers with no problems. Any comments would be appreciated

  • Thomy

    I do not agree totally with this article, especially about freezing Cannabis when storing. I cure all my stock in those ceramic or porcelain buckled and have gasket rings containers often referred to as “canisters”. After I’ve hung my plants and they start to crackle when bending the stalk, I cut the buds off, do my trimming and simply place them into the canisters closing the lids. I open those lids about every other day to allow the moisture to escape while curing. This process requires a ton of patience because we’re all so anxious to start testing our efforts. After I’ve completed trimming and placing the buds in the canisters, I store them in a cool dry place. Ideal temperature while curing is 60 to 65 degrees but not as critical as some growers tend to report. Just do not store them in temps above 75 degrees at any time… After about 3 months, I simply buckle them down and place them into a freezer set at 0 degrees. One very important thing to remember. When you decide to take a canister out of the freezer, it is VERY important to allow the canister and its contents to fully thaw before opening the canister as your frozen material will attract moisture in the air. I wait at least one hour, leaving the canister at room temperature. Force heating the canister is not recommended. I am 61 years old this is not my first day at the curing Cannabis races. I have Cannabis in my freezer right now that’s at least 3 years old but I’ve had it frozen in the freezer for up to 5 years and the ONLY thing I have ever experienced is a very slight degradation if any at all. This degradation is found on the very edges of the Cannabis that was exposed to the tiny amount of air left in the canister when it was placed into the freezer. The Cannabis below about the first quarter of inch of stock is just fine and will smoke up and look like it’s never been frozen. It’s also perfectly okay to grab some stock and re buckle the lid and place it back into the freezer for further storing. Freezing Cannabis will cause the Trichomes to become brittle and some will break off if handled frozen. So it is important to try and not disturb the stock while it’s frozen, simple as that. Drying it or “boning it out”, will also cause the Trichomes to become brittle and break off but that can also be an advantage to those who prefer to make a very potent product called “Kief”. If you follow these really simple rules, I guarantee you’ll be able to store your stock indefinitely and it will hold its color and flavor like a million bucks………………………………

  • paldo24

    Great info 👍🏻

  • Mz Demi

    I am not a professional, but I did dabble in the art and now I have a quantity that does need storing. I have it in mason jars and in the coolest room of the house in the dark. My question is, I have a vacuum sealer that seals up bags. Would it be helpful to leave the lid of the jar loose and then vacuum seal a bag around the jar?

    • Catherine Ostrom

      If your vacuum sealer is a Foodsaver brand, just purchase the jar sealer attachment that goes on the end of the vacuum hose you should have received with your unit. You can get both regular and wide mouth jar sealers. They work great. Don’t know if there would be a possibility of cracking your jar trying to seal a bag around the outside of it.

  • Jackson Tine

    Im interested in the best option for storing 100s-1000s of pounds of plant material for long term storage. One of the better options seems to be agriculture grain storage bags. I have my hesitations for that choice because they aren’t air tight. I have been using large 31gallon Tupperware bins and sealing them with plastic wrap. But stacking 100s if not 1000s of these bins in a warehouse just isn’t feasible. Or cost effective. Anyone have any ideas on mass storage options.

    • BigOCola

      5 gal buckets, 36 to a 42″ pallet (3 layers x 12). Easy to move, stack, airtight, relatively inexpensive if you set up an account as a painter somewhere. Peace 🙂

  • Izstaria

    Check out Bitzi Pods on fb. Original designed containers and they are perfect for carrying around. Round ones are screw top. I love mine. They have black square and round 1/2, 1 and 2 ounce but it’s the variety of unique art I love. I couldn’t chose just one.

  • larsshoff

    Good article, thx. 🙂

  • Sy Katus

    Some plastic baggies are like bad gas lighters from the china seas gas fields. I do not know the chemical explanation but they deplete the weeds effectiveness, practically negate it altogether.
    There are other plastic baggies available that are not noticeably harmful to weed quality, I’ve use those with the Rite Aid store brand. I suppose most pharmacy store brands could be okay. I can not make promises though that such is the case.
    I think I read something on leafy about different kinds of plastics and how some are not good for storage of weed.
    I use the storage mostly that my purchase comes in lately unless I notice the smoke apparently has no depth, has lost body. Likely the plastic choice I then assume was not wise. Then I transfer it to said baggies.

  • Dirt Farmer

    I de carbed my cannabis to make an tincture, I had some left over. My question, is how long does the cannabis last after de carb if stored in glass jar?
    Thanks,

  • Barbara Lowe

    A really helpful article! I grow 60 cannabis plants after getting growers license from OnlineMedicalCard, but was wondering how to keep them safe and away from any microbial attack. I will follow the guidelines mention in the articles and make use of cannabis for months.

  • Paul Ashok

    If you want to know how to protect and preserve your cannabis, then watch at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFz6io0DGzo. This channel is worth subscribing and one of the best channels for marijuana users

  • Highway 69

    If you’re just storing a few pounds, I use a vacuum sealer and then place the bags in the freezer.
    I usually bag them by quarter pounds (4 oz per bag), put them in some stealthy frozen food box, and they’re good for as long as you want! Even after a couple years, the buds are still quite aromatic and sticky.

  • guccihaze

    i store it in in a ziplock bag that is 100×80 cm in a dark place and room temperature… but i cant find a container in the size i need that is atleast like that size… any tips?

  • Sandra Day

    Hello From Michigan legal in 10 days the great seed search begins.

    • Ralphus

      Is it open sales to the public, or are there restrictions attached to the sales? Thanks, from Ohio

  • Butch

    When I was in Cali, my friend had a Ghost OG strain that after 10 weeks of flowering produced no terminal buds/ colas. He sprayed the colas with Bonide Tomato Blossom Set Spray. Still no terminal buds after 2 more weeks. After flushing, he harvested the plant anyway.. Must say we were very surprised by the potency. After doing some reading, I think the plant had a nutrient lock. Any suggestions/comments?

  • Ashuri

    So I generally get just a couple grams a time (a three week – month supply). Is it okay to leave it in the plastic container for the 2 – 3 weeks before I grind it up? Also, how long after you grind it up does it stay good? I only grind a gram at a time and keep it in a dugout (again, maybe 2 – 3 weeks).

  • Darrin LaMasa

    How long will THC last in flower. If marijuana is stored in vacuum
    bags in regular room temp. does the THC at some point become undetectable ????

  • Tired Ofit

    Would injecting the glass storage jars with CO2, essentially replacing the oxygen, help in storage?

  • KamalaDevi Venus

    So I am a newbie using MM for pain & sleep. I having been trying different strains to find out what works best for me. I keep the MM in the packaging I get it in (some is glass, some is plastic, some plastic envelopes) & then put those into a dark double closure large ziplock type envelope I get at my dispensary. I keep that in a closed drawer. After I grind a small amount I put it into tiny ziplock bags and keep in a closed dark cupboard. I micro dose 2 draws about 3x a day for pain & insomnia. I rotate which strains I used based on what I am needing. I can’t imagine putting all these small amounts into tiny glass containers. I know Mason jars do make a tiny glass jam jar. I am wanting to try some more strains & don’t want what I have to go bad; the oldest is about 7 months old. What is the easiest cost effective way to store my MM stock?