Cannabis is a flowering herb. Like parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, it has a long shelf life if treated well. If you’re raising your own cannabis, you have absolute control.
If you’re buying on the back street, medical marijuana dispensary, or cannabis shop, you may want to check the quality. You want to check it when you get it, and you want to store it correctly.
Check It When You Get It.
Buying cannabis at a legal dispensary or store presents layers of quality assurance. For example, the budtenders are not pushing old stock in unlabeled baggies.
When you shop, you get to see and select the source plant. You get to see the product packaged in front of you. And, you have the benefit of state regulations on the farming, harvesting, and distribution of cannabis from seed to sale.
The cannabis sold legally has been logged and tracked through every step of its seeding, growth, and delivery. And, certainly at this stage in the legalization process, dispensaries and stores are not inclined to violate those rules.
But, as the Chicago Tribune[MC1] remarked, “Marijuana will always be cheaper on the black market.”
When you buy marijuana on the street, you do take a risk. Most important, you risk purchasing weed that has been adulterated with filler or, worse yet, with synthetics that can kill.
Where you have an established relationship with a dealer, you can usually trust the buy. Where you have the experience, you recognize the color, texture, and grain. But, it is still worth checking.
- Appearance: Good healthy product generally has a rich green look with a frosting of crystals. When it gets old and dry, it powders.
- Density: You are not looking to buy wood. You want a sharp snap when you break the buds apart. But, if it does not burn evenly, it is too dense or not dense enough.
- Taste: Taste may be on the tongue of the beholder, but people develop a taste for certain flavors: earthy, smoky, citrus, spicy, and so on. Once you develop a taste for one strain or another, you will recognize the quality of the flavor when you use it.
- Smell: Aroma and flavor usually connect. Fresh cannabis will have a strong organic aroma somewhere between skunk and lemon.
- High: One best test lies in the high that it produces. A strong high impact high may signal potency, but it may not be the high you want or thought you purchased. For instance, you may not be trying to stay awake or feel a debilitating couch lock.
However, the biggest fear is mildew. Mold will affect your lungs, and prolonged use of mildewed weed will damage your respiration seriously.
If you smell mildew, the weed was grown, dried, and packaged improperly. You’ll smell it when you break buds apart or when you open the package.
Good weed has some moisture, but if it is not dried carefully, it will package with too much wet and mildew underway.
How To Store It Correctly
Marijuana is an herb that will last a long time if you handle it correctly. And, that depends on how quickly and frequently you use it.
You want to get it out of the baggie your product came in. It makes more sense to save your stash in something like a spice jar, a small like Sucrets come in, or an orange plastic prescription container in a cool dry space (52°-55° F).
To store weed in Ziploc baggies, you’ll want to put it in small brown bags before you put it in the plastic bag because the static cling attached to baggies affects the THC. As you seal it, press as much air out as you can or use a vacuum sealer.
You can, then, refrigerate the package, but freezing it is not smart. Freezing makes the product brittle and vulnerable to damage, and the whole storage process means handling the stuff too much.
You can use Tupperware containers, but you must wrap the cannabis in parchment paper first, or the plastic will taint it.
You can use Mason jars or the like, but you must confirm that the gasket at the lid is viable. And, any glass container must be removed from sunlight UV rays. Be sure to open the container and wipe the lid and sides if you see signs of moisture gathering on the glass.
You can throw in an orange peel or carrot slice to balance the moisture, or you can invest in a humidor where you store the weed at 50-65% humidity. It’s a good place to store blunts like you would store cigars.
Finally, online retail sources are filled with low and moderately priced vacuum bottles, glassware, and storage containers specifically aimed at the cannabis marketplace.
Whether you are buying buds, seeds, or grains, you are paying a lot out of pocket. Unlikely to use it at one time, you need to store the product somehow. You might even separate your daily need from a longer-term stash, but you want to secure it well.
When you buy it above ground, market pressures and regulatory controls protect your risk of tainted product. In a PBS interview with Mason Tvert, who helped draft the Colorado legislation, Tvert said, “Variety, convenience, safety. That’s what drives every product in the entire world. You know, that’s what’s going to drive this market. If someone is lower income or a higher income, chances are they’re going to go to a store and purchase it because it’ll be safe. It’ll be convenient. There’ll be variety. These are what drive people’s decisions.”
When you buy it underground, the risk of damaged and potentially damaging product increases exponentially. Mason Tvert also commented on the continuing black market, “I think it’s absurd for anyone to assume that we can eliminate a black market that grew over 80 plus years within the course of eight, nine months. But we’ve seen this industry take a huge bite out of the underground market.”
Dispensaries and shops must find ways to get the customer off the street. The Chicago Tribune predicts, “Tupperware-style education parties, spa-like interior design and good old-fashioned customer service — all ways to beat out their fiercest competitors: underground dealers.” Whether the buzz and the price are worth the risk is up to you.