If you cook, you know that proper food storage is key to eating healthy and staying healthy. After all, spoiled food can not only ruin your day, it can make you sick too.
So as a new or veteran medicinal cannabis user, it’s a good idea to know the best ways in which to keep and store your cannabis. After all, the fresher it is, the more effective it will be, not to mention that it’s a valuable investment. Pardon the pun, but who wants to see their money go up in smoke?
As you generally know, dried cannabis is an herb. Storing dried cannabis is very much like storing the herbs you cook with. When cannabis is kept in perfect storage conditions, dried cannabis can last for years.
In most cases, cannabis is not an herb that’s ground or made to shake out like oregano. Cannabis is typically a dried bud or buds that are stored. So when you keep your buds pretty much intact, they’ll last longer.
Here’s a little insight: properly stored cannabis can have a shelf life of between two and three years. Although, a number of cannabis users have managed to extend the herbs freshness and longevity. Without any protection (and this would be an extreme case of negligence), your cannabis will be dry, gross, and totally useless.
By keeping it in a little baggie, you might get a few weeks or a month —maybe a little more. But that’s only if you’ve got it stored in a dark, dry location. You might have a couple of month’s shelf life at the most, but the herb’s quality will diminish within a few days.
Something you might want to keep in mind as you continue to read is that like a fine wine or whiskey, cannabis keeps best if it’s aged in a cool, dark place. Even without an obvious expiration date, there are a few key things to consider when you’re storing your supply of cannabis, especially if it’s for medical treatment purposes, for an extended period of time.
Dispensary cannabis storage tips
When properly stored, your dispensary buds could last anywhere from a few months to a year with proper storage. The quality of your product is the key, and you should opt for high-quality right from the beginning.
- Make sure the herb is pre-packaged, if not, ask how long it’s been sitting out.
- Avoid taking cannabis in a plastic baggie
- Note how much exposure to light the cannabis may have gotten if it’s sitting out.
- Make sure the handling of your bud is done with tools such as chopsticks.
In temperatures between 77º and 86º F, mildew, molds and other disagreeable matter can thrive. Heat that’s excessive will dry out the cannabinoids and terpenes quickly that took months to materialize. What could happen is that the essential oils and plant material get too dry, and you’ll get a hot, harsh smoke.
You need to make sure you’re keeping your cannabis stored in a cool, dark place. Lower temperatures can slow down the decarboxylation process of the cannabinoids, which transfers THC-A into the kind of THC that provides the soothing high. Also, warm air can retain moisture which is also detrimental to the herb.
So keep your buds cool and that will go a long way to ensure their longevity!
Watch the humidity!
To control mildew and mold from infiltrating your cannabis, controlling the humidity in your storage area is crucial. Not only can mold and mildew wreak havoc, but other contaminants can weaken and compromise the potency of medicinal cannabis.
Proper relative humidity ranges are essential, and the general guideline is to keep cannabis store in a place with between 59% and 63% RH (relative humidity) to maintain all the attributes of your cannabis: color, aroma, flavor, and consistency. If you’re able to keep it stored in a location with an RH below 65%, the chances of mold damaging your product diminish. On the flip side, if the humidity is too low, the trichomes in the cannabis could get brittle and dry out essential oils.
Leave it in the Dark!
For many materials that are organic and synthetic, harmful UV rays can break down the material and reduce integrity. If you can visualize how dry and brown grass can turn under blazing hot and bright sun during a long, hot summer, or how paint can fade when exposed to a lot of light over time, the same thing can happen to your cannabis.
A study in the 1970’s at the University of London proved that light had the most denigrating effect on cannabinoids. Plus, if stored properly, cannabinoids can maintain their stability for up to two years.
Air…on the side of caution
Even though cannabis requires oxygen to sustain the growth and curing stage, you need to make sure that the right amount of air is in the storage container you’re using to keep your cannabis fresh and sustained as it originally was. If there’s not enough air, it can have an effect on the relative humidity of the container, particularly if the buds haven’t completely dried before they were stored.
With too much air, the degradation of the cannabis is accelerated due to the exposure of the cannabinoids and the organic material of the cannabis to oxygen.
If you need to, there are varieties of electric and hand vacuum pump attachments designed to work with canning jars. They can help you get your air consistency right!
Canna-do’s and Canna-don’ts!
To make life a little easier, we’ve listed some recommendations on what to do to safely and confidently store and preserve your cannabis…and what you should not do if you want it to last for a good length of time.
- Keep your cannabis away from direct sunlight by storing it a place that’s cool and dry.
- Use containers with a neutral charge such as jars made of glass to store cannabis in.
- Use hygrometers to keep a check on and control relative humidity (RH) levels. You can also look into products like Boveda.
- Keep your cannabis strains separated to help them keep the individual flavor profile that make them unique.
- Research and learn about exciting new ways that are emerging for cannabis storage.
With the cannabis industry growing and changing each day, there are always new and dynamic storage products and methods to store your cannabis. Companies are coming out with new solutions every day to help you with your cannabis storage needs.
- Place your cannabis in the refrigerator for storage. There are too many changes in the humidity and temperature levels that can lead to increased chances for your cannabis to attract mold and mildew.
- Use a freezer to store your cannabis. The extreme freezing temperatures can affect the trichomes in the cannabis to turn brittle and break like tiny icicles when they’re handled.
- Use plastic bags or containers to store cannabis. There’s a static charge that can come from plastic bags that acts as an attraction for precious trichomes. Only use a plastic bag for storage when you need a short-term solution for small amounts of cannabis.
- Store cannabis near appliances or kitchen electrics that are heat producers, such as stoves and ovens, microwave ovens, toasters and toaster ovens. As you know, heat rises, so the lower you can store the cannabis, the better. Choose a place like a low cupboard or shelf, or even in the basement of your house.
- Put the cannabis in a tobacco humidor. Because of the oils that can get transferred to the cannabis from cedar wood, which is used in a lot of humidors, the flavor of the cannabis can be affected. There’s also the risk that sponges that use propylene glycol for humidity regulation could cause the cannabis to become oversaturated.
- Put other smoking materials and tools inside for the sake of keeping everything together with your cannabis. If there’s any ash or resin from cannabis that’s been burnt, it can linger and smell up the storage container. Keep your supplies clean and separated from the cannabis!
If you have cannabis-infused products like the edibles that have a short shelf life, follow the guidelines specific to them. Use the directions on the package as your guideline for proper storage.
The same should go for any alcohol tinctures and cannabis concentrates. Even though the risk is less severe, you still want to be careful with any cannabis product to protect its potency and reduce any chance of contamination.
There are so many storage options out there that we know it can appear to be quite overwhelming. Sometimes you don’t know if you got a fresh batch of cannabis or how long it may have been sitting in a counter. But by keeping the buds intact for most part almost ensures that they will have a longer shelf life.
When you’ve got high-quality cannabis to help you treat a serious medical condition or ailment, there are more better ways to protect your investment (and it is a significant investment), especially if your needs are more medical than recreational.
By taking a few simple precautions you’ll keep your cannabis fresh and ready to use when you need to use it.