Can Weed Go Bad? An Investigation Into Cannabis Spoilage

Picture of expired weed in a turned over can

Can weed go bad? When will it happen, and how can you prolong its life?

What’s the shelf life of weed? Can weed go bad? This question has plagued cannabis users for ages. With so much misinformation floating around, it’s hard to tell if your bud is still good or if you should throw it away and pick up some new product. 

Can Weed Go Bad?

Cannabis can expire, but it’s not the plant itself that goes bad. The cannabinoids — the chemical compounds that give marijuana its medical and recreational properties — are what degrade over time and make cannabis less effective.

If you buy weed from a dispensary or retail store, the product is usually tested to make sure it meets quality standards before it’s sold. But once you get home, the clock starts ticking on how long you can use your purchase before it expires!

The degradation of THC content is one of the most common complaints in marijuana, which can be caused by improper storage. 

The main thing to remember when storing cannabis is that it needs to be kept away from heat, light, and moisture (more on how to store your weed later). If you store your cannabis in a plastic baggie, make sure it’s sealed tightly and try to avoid any big changes in temperature so you don’t cause condensation. 

You should know that THC will degrade over time at a rate of about 10% per year so even if you do everything right, your product may still lose potency over time. Fortunately, many manufacturers package their products with a date or batch number on the packaging so you’ll know when to use it up before it goes bad. 

How To Tell If Weed Has Gone Bad

If you are concerned about how long your weed will last, take a look at its expiration date. Stored properly, it should last up to a year. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible for inexperienced users to tell whether cannabis has gone bad just by looking at it because all weed looks good to an untrained eye. 

However, there are some warning signs of spoiled cannabis: 

  • It has an off-putting odor
  • It tastes much different than usual
  • It burns poorly but produces an abundant amount of smoke
  • It doesn’t seem to affect you as strongly as usual
  • When heated up, there’s a more pronounced blue tint
  • There are visible mold spores present on the bud (although these will always appear after months or years) 

Unfortunately, once a bud has been spoiled it is impossible to reverse or mitigate. While you most likely won’t get sick from smoking spoiled weed, it won’t result in a good high. If you require fresh marijuana, consult your usual supplier and make sure to buy from reputable stores where you can return any defective product for a refund.

Ultimately it’s better for customers if their suppliers include detailed information about how best to store their product and what should happen if it spoils. Sometimes customers find themselves wondering whether they are being ripped off when they get home with a bunch of weed that was past its prime. 

And why does all of that matter anyway? Well, we all know that pot makes people feel relaxed, happy, giggly, and creative. But some of us don’t like feeling out of control and silly–especially those who want to be productive or focus on work. 

Smoking cannabis products that have gone bad may make them feel drowsy and sleepy instead of euphoric. 

So ask yourself the following questions before smoking: 

  • How old is this weed? 
  • Has it been stored properly since harvest? 
  • Does this smell normal? 
  • Is this potent enough for my liking?

Asking yourself these questions can be all part of the learning process of smoking expired or fresh cannabis. 

Is Expired Weed Less Potent?

When you buy fresh produce, you expect it to be at its peak of freshness. The same goes for cannabis. You want your buds to be as potent and flavorful as possible before they go bad.

The problem is that cannabis has a shelf life and expiry date just like any other product. If you don’t store it properly or buy from an unreliable source, your buds won’t be nearly as potent as they should be when you smoke them.

To ensure that your weed is always at its best, follow these tips: 

  • Buy from a reliable source;
  • Properly store your bud;
  • Check for moldy buds: The sign of moldy bud is easy to spot—the buds are usually darker in color than usual and can be discolored or spotted throughout. 

There are two main reasons why expired weed might not be as good as fresh stuff: THC content and taste. Cannabis potency decreases over time, meaning that after about six months or so, your bud will have noticeably less of the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than before. 

And although this can be remedied by smoking more product, eventually your stash will just be too weak to deliver the desired effects. What’s more, over time weed also starts to lose its flavor; this is mainly due to a natural process called oxidation. 

Exposure to air causes the cannabinoids in marijuana to break down and degrade into chemicals that don’t provide much of a buzz at all. For example, myrcene is an aromatic terpene found in hops (among other plants) which gives beer its hoppy flavor. 

Over time myrcene oxidizes into something called 3-methylbut-2-ene-1-thiol (MBT). MBT doesn’t have any psychoactive properties whatsoever – it basically tastes like spoiled fruit! So while you may not get sick from smoking expired cannabis, you definitely won’t enjoy it as much either way. 

If there’s no date on your product, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard anything that’s been stored for longer than one year.

Will I Get Sick From Smoking Expired Cannabis?

Smoking expired marijuana is not a good idea, but it won’t kill you. In fact, it can actually make you feel pretty good for a little while, but nowhere near as fresh cannabis.

The problem with smoking old weed is that it will probably result in a less-than-pleasant high. As THC starts to break down over time, it produces CBN (cannabinol), which has a very mild sedative effect on the body. This means that smoking old weed could give you a mild high and make you sleepy.

How To Store Your Weed Properly

The degradation of THC content is one of the most common complaints in marijuana, which can be caused by improper storage. The main thing to remember when storing cannabis is that it needs to be kept away from heat, light, and moisture. 

Cannabis should not be stored near anything with strong odors because this will cause the scent to transfer onto your product OR your weed. It’s not a complete change of smell and taste, but the effect may be enough to bother true connoisseurs. 

If you have been storing cannabis improperly, then it will only stay fresh for three months max no matter what precautions have been taken. Generally, cannabis can last between six months to a year if it’s stored properly in an airtight container out of direct sunlight. 

Tips On How To Store Weed Properly

  • Cannabis should never be stored in direct sunlight or close to sources of heat like stovetops, fireplaces, ovens, and hot cars. Keep your weed somewhere cool like a refrigerator, pantry, or closet. 

Exposure to light can degrade cannabinoids over time. That’s why many people prefer storing their weed in opaque containers or wrapping their bud in foil before putting it in a container — it helps protect it from light exposure while also protecting their stash from unwanted hands (and eyes).

  • Don’t leave your product sitting in water (e.g., sink) or damp areas as this promotes mold growth and creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow which will contaminate all other foods nearby. 

Store cannabis securely in containers made out of glass jars or opaque metal tins that are both airtight and watertight so they’re impervious to humidity as well as insects like moths who love high-carbohydrate food sources like dried herbs.

  •  It’s also important to keep your product away from all odors and fragrances (especially peppermint!) to avoid transferring odors onto your product, which can influence its smell and taste. Because of marijuana’s chemical properties, it will take on a chemical reaction and change its flavor profile depending on what you store it with.
  •  Your weed will lose some of its potency over time, no matter what you do. For example, if your product is tested at 9% THC and stored properly, after one year it may be only 5% THC so it’s a good idea to use your product within six months to one year of purchasing it.

Key Takeaways

Always follow proper storage methods for the freshest weed possible. Fresh weed will result in a better high, and a better high will have you craving more for next time instead of reminding you of a bad experience with stale weed.

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