Everything deteriorates over time, even THC, the active compound found in medical cannabis. So how can we tell whether cannabis is expiring? Proper storage prolongs the cannabis buds and concentrates, but too much time in storage can affect the taste and efficacy of it.
Malie Cannabis Clinic offers information in this article about the shelf-life of medical cannabis. From signs that your cannabis has deteriorated, to tips on proper storage, we will go over everything you need to determine what to do if your medical cannabis has gone bad.
Does Medical Cannabis Expire?
Depending on the environment that your buds have been exposed to, the state of the cannabinoid content will differ. If it’s been stored in a moist area, then it’s better to dispose of it. If it’s been kept in a cool, dry area then its THC can still be salvaged for use.
As a guide, you can note that THC weakens by 16% in a year, 26% in 2 years, 34% in 3 years and 41% in 4 years. It has longevity but the potency effects can be reduced after a certain period has passed.
Signs that Medical Cannabis has Deteriorated
Cannabis is an organic compound, just like food. This means that over time, it will deteriorate. However, there are ways to tell if the cannabis has become spoiled with these distinct signs:
Change in physical appearance
Does your cannabis have a brown color? Does it look crusty and dry? Does it appear less full? Even if it looks brown, dry, and reduced in quantity, you can still smoke it. The quality is expected to be lower with some flavor difference, but it doesn’t mean that your medical cannabis can no longer be used. If you spot some molds though or it has a wet and dark appearance, then discarding it is the best recourse.
When you touch old cannabis, it’s drier and can quickly disintegrate. Grinding it won’t take too much effort. Any moist cannabis is better left for disposal. Given its organic nature, it can develop white patches and change in color, which is usually an indication of mold growth, meaning you should dispose of it.
Change in smell
When medical cannabis is old, its scent may change or decrease in potency. If you find that the smell is repulsive then it’s best to refrain from smoking it. Any new strong scent can also be taken as a bad sign.
Reasons Medical Cannabis Loses Potency
As time passes, chemical reactions occur for the cannabinoids that make up the cannabis. Even if it seems that the change is just a tiny bit, effects can still be felt since the THC has transitioned chemically.
Usually, medical cannabis is picked when the THCA content is at its peak. It then converts into THC through a heating process known as decarboxylation. This isn’t the final result, though, since more reactions can be obtained through UV light exposure. It then forms new compounds that can result in a different flavor, taste, or less potency.
Effect of Smoking Expired Cannabis
Even if certain chemical changes have occurred as described above, it doesn’t mean something bad will transpire. The possibility is that the effect will be reduced making it more soothing, rather than increase your energy levels. However, the exception is if your cannabis has mold on it. To avoid illness, you should dispose of moldy cannabis.
Longevity of Cannabis Wax
Aside from the cannabis flower, THC concentrates also expire. Compared to the buds, the shelf life of dabs and cannabis can be shorter. Recognize the strong weed-like aroma that can signify an evaporation of the terpenes leading to inferior flavor.
Commonly, the shelf life of concentrates is six to eight months, give or take if proper storage has been observed. Past this period, the quality can be compromised but it can still be smoked.
For wax, concentrates can undergo nucleation which means crystallization of the substance. Medical cannabis that’s affected by nucleation will look sugary and will appear to be crystal-like. There are lipids used to create the cannabis concentrates which can harm you once nucleation has taken place. You’ll quickly recognize it through its white or semi-white characteristics.
Storage and Quality of Medical Cannabis
To enjoy your cannabis for a long time, you need to store it properly. Keep it out from oxygen, heat, and UV light. Ensure that the weed is placed in airtight, opaque vessels and located in a cool area to protect its powerful effects for a long time. This is a good preservation tip to ensure the quality of your medical cannabis.
Keeping your cannabis concentrate for the long term also requires the same procedure but nucleation is imminent. Still, abiding to the tips above can prolong the existence of your cannabis concentrates. You can use the winterizing method for longer preservation. This is a procedure that entails the removal of waxes and lipids from the concentrate. It can slow down nucleation.
Maturity of Aged Cannabis
You might be wondering if cannabis’ quality becomes more refined as the years march on. Wines and whiskeys tend to capture a finer taste the longer its preservation. Cannabis differs from wines and whiskeys since the product tends to deteriorate the longer it's stored. Chemical changes build up the more the cannabis ages. Hence, it lessens the bud quality when you delay smoking it.
Curing cannabis is still possible though through the drying method that can enrich the terpene characteristic and fully utilize the cannabinoids concentration namely the THC or CBD active compounds. Several opinions are offered up on the best drying technique. It’s done through controlled drying out in the open air. It can take a few days or weeks to finish, and you need to store it in a sealed container afterwards.
The Bottom Line
To conclude, medical cannabis won’t have the same fine maturity that wines exude through extended storage. But a dry cannabis appearance still signifies its smoking suitability. If you have any hesitation about the condition of your medical cannabis, it is best not to smoke it.