Cannabis flowers and edibles will expire. All organic products have a shelf life. How long they remain viable and effective depends on their respective makeup and the way you store them.
The shelf life of cannabis flowers begins when farmers harvest the cannabis strain, so the products you prepare or purchase have run part of their shelf life before they have come to market.
It can save you cannabis quality and money if you protect and extend the shelf life of your cannabis flowers and edibles.
The shelf life of cannabis flowers
Cannabinoids, including THC, CBD, terpenes, and flavonoids, lose their potency while you store the cannabis flower. The degradation does not happen quickly, but research has found a stash will lose half of its power if stored for four years. As it ages, cannabis will lose its moisture and smell.
Frankly, most cannabis users do not hang on to their stuff this long. Most will exhaust the stash within six months to a year or two. If you worry about not knowing what you have on hand, you can be sure the potency has decreased to some degree. So, it makes sense to store your cannabis well and label the container with the start date.
Cannabis does not improve with age. It may not kill you, but it will lose its taste, aroma, and potency for recreational or medical effects. It would help if you asked the budtender at the cannabis dispensary when the flower was harvested and packaged. It should have a “best used by” date on the producer’s label, or you can label your storage container with that info. For example, you might note the storage date and an expiration date no more than three years out.
How to protect your cannabis flower
Many cannabis users sweep their dry herb and debris into small tins or jars without paying attention to the weed’s needs. They accumulate their leavings in glass jars like loose coins. The convenience outweighs the good sense.
Cannabis stores best in dark glass jars with airtight lids, although any container with a strong seal can do. You might consider traditional Mason Jars or the black jars available from Herb Guard or Tightvac. Others use humidors or fashionable storage units that could pass for desktop features or cosmetic lines.
Optimizing your cannabis storage means protecting your supply from hot temperatures and humidity. However, you do not want to forget the flowers stored and hidden in closets or cabinets. Most cannabis concentrates have a long shelf life. If you start to notice the product’s smell, it may have begun to degrade. So, it would be best if you store your concentrates in cool, cark places as well.
The shelf life of cannabis edibles
Cannabis edibles have different chemical components depending on their origin and processing. Cannabis oils, for instance, have a good shelf life, but those extracted in a CO2 process seem to have more stability.
The longevity of cannabis baked goods, energy drinks, butters, candies, and other variables differ. Refrigerated items will lose their potency within a week, mainly if they include dairy products like milk or chocolate. Baked brownies and cookies will retain their power until they become stale. Gummies, lollipops, and lozenges will last longer. The key is the smell. Once organic products go bad, the smell will, too.
Cannabis edibles likely to age quickly should be refrigerated. Some recommend freezing edibles for up to six months, but you may find that freezing changes the chemistry and health of the items. Freezing then thawing the moisture within the edibles can degrade their composition.
Baked goods will go stale in their time, and the cannabis therein will degrade too. You want to wrap cookies and brownies in airproof containers firmly and store them in cool, dark places. Good, safe places test at 55◦ to 70◦ F. It would help if you labeled these goods with the preparation date and stretch date for expiration.
Cannabis chocolate and cannabutter depend on the life of their dairy base. However, people tend to use these items sooner than later. The idea of stretching their shelf life seems unnecessary. If you stumble across some unused chocolates or cannabutter in time, they are not likely to hurt you even if they do not have the potency you expected.
The best plan
It makes sense to purchase cannabis flowers and edibles at good dispensaries, those with a visible and experience profile that ensures their reliability. Spend some time with the budtender to discuss your cannabis habit. If you are a frequent user, shelf life has little importance. If you use moderately or occasionally, you should have a picture of your shelf life needs. With some research under the belt, you can focus on detailed labeling and avoid products without sufficient info.
If you prepare your cannabis edibles, it would be best to do so with a plan and calendar. Then label your products with information that will help you store, track, and use your cannabis edibles at the potency you prefer.