Does Weed Go Bad? (Yes – Here’s Why)

by May 20, 2023Weed1 comment

If you’re the type of person who stores your stash in a variety of locations around the house, there’s a good chance that you’ll occasionally come across some weed that’s been around for a while – and when that happens, you’re naturally going to wonder if old weed is safe to use. So, you’ve found some green stuff in the back of a drawer, and it’s looking a little dry and crumbly. Does weed go bad, or is it OK to break out the dry herb vaporizer and go to town?

You’re about to learn the answers to these questions.

  • What happens to weed as it ages?
  • Is it dangerous to use old weed?
  • How can you store weed to keep it fresh?
  • What can you do with old weed?
  • Can old vape carts expire?
  • What does an expired cart look like?

By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know exactly what to do with weed that’s a bit past its prime. Let’s jump in.

Does Weed Expire?

Unless weed has signs of mold growth, it doesn’t really expire in the traditional sense. It can, however, reach a point where you might not really want to use it. That’s mostly because cannabis loses its THC content over time. The flavor of cannabis also degrades in storage. If you store it well, you can expect weed to maintain peak quality for about six months. After a year of storage, it’ll still be quite usable. Any longer than that, and you’re probably going to find the experience disappointing.

Note that if you want your weed to last up to a year in storage, you’ve got to store it in an environment that’s well sealed and has a controlled humidity level. If you just throw your buds into a plastic bag and shove the bag into a drawer, it’ll start to dry out in as little as a month. We’ll talk more about proper weed storage shortly.

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Does Weed Go Bad? (Yes – Here’s Why) 1

What Happens when Weed Gets Old?

The most important thing that happens when cannabis gets old is that it loses its THC content. As THC degrades, it forms the cannabinoid cannabinol (CBN). CBN has no obvious psychoactive effects. Although some people have mentioned that CBN seems to be helpful for sleep, you definitely won’t get high from it. It’s been estimated that the THC content of cannabis decreases by about 25 percent in two years of storage.

When weed gets old, it also loses its flavor. That’s because the buds begin to dry out and lose their terpenes. Although the loss of terpenes may not have a major effect on how you feel when smoking or vaping the weed, it’ll certainly detract from the overall enjoyment of the experience.

What’s the Best Way to Store Weed?

If you want your weed to last as long as it possibly can, you need to do two things.

  • You need to control its moisture content by controlling the humidity level in the storage container. Low humidity causes the moisture to escape from the buds, causing them to become crackly and flavorless.
  • You need to keep it away from heat, air and sunlight. These environmental factors accelerate the rate at which the THC degrades.

The best container for weed storage is a well-sealed glass or ceramic jar that’s about the same volume as the amount of weed that you want to store. Store the jar in a location that’s cool and protected from sunlight, such as a cabinet.

You should also put a humidity control packet in the jar to ensure that the interior of the jar will maintain the correct relative humidity. For cannabis, the ideal relative humidity ranges from 58 to 62 percent. If there’s too little moisture, the weed will dry out. If there’s too much, mold could grow.

Is It Safe to Use Old Weed?

If you have some old weed that’s been in storage for a while, there’s usually no reason to avoid using it unless you can see evidence of mold. If you have cannabis that’s covered with fuzz or powder – or if the buds feel wet or spongy – you’ll need to discard your weed because it’s not safe to use. You don’t ever want to inhale mold. If the only apparent problem is that the buds are thoroughly dried out, you should be able to use the weed without any issues – but you should expect the potency to be on the low side.

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Does Weed Go Bad? (Yes – Here’s Why) 2

What Can You Do with Old Weed?

If you have some old weed that’s well past its prime and no longer good enough for smoking or vaping, you don’t necessarily need to throw it away. Instead, try making dabs and vaping the material with an electric nectar collector. Alternatively, you can make a weed tincture that’s suitable for oral use. Making dabs or a tincture from old weed concentrates the remaining cannabinoids, allowing you to enjoy an experience that’s still potent and enjoyable.

Do Carts Expire?

Pre-filled vape cartridges are intended to be used within about a year after they’re filled. In fact, if you look at a boxed cartridge, you’ll probably see an expiration date somewhere on the package. If you don’t see an expiration date, try to use the cartridge within a year of buying it. For maximum shelf life, you should store pre-filled vape cartridges in an environment that protects them from heat and light.

What Does an Expired Cart Look Like?

After spending more than a year in storage, the oil in a vape cartridge will probably be heavily oxidized. You’ll find that the oil looks much darker than it did when the cartridge was new. After a few months of storage, it’s normal for vape oil to oxidize and darken slightly. If it’s very dark, though, you should avoid using the cartridge because the oil is most likely rancid.

You should also avoid using a vape cartridge if the oil looks cloudy, because this can happen in the event of microbial contamination. You definitely don’t want to inhale a fungus or bacteria that’s able to grow in an oxygen-free environment and should discard the cartridge.

1 Comment

  1. portusbarlow

    Having grown for over 50 years and 10 years straight until 2019 I can tell you that cannabis can be kept for much longer times without hardly any loss in taste or potency . It has to be kept in glass , vacuum sealed and in a cold dark place ( refrig, not freezer) It has to be cured properly when put away.
    I have cannabis that is 4 years old and you can not tell that it wasn’t harvested a month ago.
    Use a ball jar with a vacuum attachment and pull a vacuum using at least a 3.5CFM vacuum pump, I use a 5CFM 2 stage pump for at least 5 min., longer is better .
    You can take out what you need for a few weeks and immediately vacuum seal and put it away in the frig. You must vacuum and reseal the jar right away after you open it. After 4 years and 6 varieties I am down to my last oz or 2 and its as good as the day I put it away. Thanks for medical, legalization and dispensaries.

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