The Shelf Life Of Weed: How Long Does Flower Stay Fresh?
Dec 11, 2018 5 minute read
An explainer on how long weed will stay good. Or, what to do when you rediscover some premium herb in your sock drawer.
Here’s a true story. Lately, I’ve had a lingering desire to make some cannabutter (my mom’s recipe—coconut oil infused with cannabis by way of a long, slow simmer). But not wanting to spend premium cash on premium herb for some butter I could very well botch, I found myself at a loss. Then, while cleaning out the clustercuss that is my pantry, I found a generously sized bag of the kind of scraggle weed that’s perfect for home-brewed butter.
“ When treated right, well-cured weed can stay good for six months to a year. ”
The only problem? The bud was as crisp as a mummified box of saltine crackers, a relic of my freeloading college days. Which led me to ask myself a bunch of questions. If I try to grind this ancient herb, will it turn to dust? Will it work? Will I die? Is this even weed? Look, I’m no expert, but I do know how to use the Google and figured out how to change a tire once, so I felt I was up to the task of digging deep into the science behind keeping cannabis fresh. Because whether it’s affordable herb or the best flower money can buy, you’ll want it to be fresh when you light up.
Here’s what I learned: As is the case with most organic elements on earth, nothing lasts forever. Everything is temporary. My apologies if you’re first hearing about mortality via a cannabis website, but hey, there are worse ways to learn about death. Generally, when treated right, well-cured weed can last for a good six months to a year. Now, after that date, it’s not as if smoking some dusty weed will kill you. In fact, it might not do much of anything. In the same way other drugs and even spices in your pantry lose potency over time, your old herb won’t give you the same lift as that hot, young herb. It’s an ageist, terrible reality, but it is what it is.
But exactly how shitty will your weed be if you forget about it all year, you ask? The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has a solid answer. Basically, the gradual loss of THC in stored cannabis is proportional to the amount of time your weed sits in storage. Overall, the study’s authors found that after one year of being kept at room temperature, your flower’s THC content will decrease by about 17%. After two years, you’re seeing a 27% loss in potency; three years brings you a 35% drop; and by four years, your weed is almost half as potent as it once was. So, say you start off with a nice, potent Purple Punch that was lab-tested at 22% THC. Store those flavorful nugs in your bedroom for four years, and that flower will probably just put you to sleep if it does anything at all.
It’s not bad to smoke geriatric weed, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s good either. Cannabis is different from a fine wine in that it won’t always get better the longer it is aged. However, like fine wine, you want to store your nugs in a cool, dark place to help it last longer. Your mom’s basement will do just fine. One of those nifty cannabis humidors would be perfect. And Buffalo Bill’s lotion pit works, too, if being a creeper is more your style. Point being, keep your weed out of the sun and rain if you want it to get you high.
And if you want to make that weed last—whether you’re a slow burner or prepping for the apocalypse—there are a couple key tricks to keeping it tight. For instance, avoid too-large containers, paper anything, and plastic baggies that get punctured easily and aren’t particularly airtight anyway. So much for my hidden pantry weed. Sigh.
On the flipside, glass and ceramic jars are great for weed storage for a variety of reasons. You can get a good seal with jars and they generally maintain proper humidity levels. (Jam jars make a lot more sense now, don’t they?) Should you want to get super fancy, grab your mom’s vacuum sealer and zip those puppies up like a Space Bag infomercial.
Fancy tools aside, the single best thing you can do to keep your weed good is to keep it out of the sun. Sunlight degrades THC, converting it to the non-intoxicating cannabinoid, cannabinol or CBN because #science. That said, CBN contains beneficial properties of its own and is believed to help some patients with sleep, pain, inflammation, and reduced appetite. Some dispensaries have started offering concentrated forms of CBN for those looking beyond CBD to manage their pain. At the end of the day, it seems weed is the wonder drug we all think it is—even when treated with more neglect than your old Tamagotchi.
Be sure to check out all of our top-rated (and super fresh) flower here.
'How long does weed last?' It's an age old question we'll help answer plus give you some tips on what to do with old weed!
How Long Does a Cannabis High Last?
A cannabis high can last anywhere from 2 to 10 hours, depending on a range of factors.
- how much you consume
- how much tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) it contains
- your body weight and body fat percentage
- your metabolism
- whether or not you’ve eaten
- your tolerance
Cannabis contains more than 113 chemical compounds called cannabinoids. Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of those cannabinoids, and it’s the ingredient responsible for making you feel high.
Here’s a closer look at the timeline of a delta-9 THC high and tips for cutting things short.
How quickly you feel the effects mostly depends on your method of use:
- Smoking or vaping. You can begin to feel the effects of cannabis within 2 to 10 minutes. It kicks in quickly because it enters your bloodstream via your lungs within minutes of inhaling it.
- Eating. Your digestive system metabolizes pot when you eat it, which can take a while. Edibles usually kick in within 30 to 60 minutes, but can sometimes take as long as 2 hours.
- Dabbing. With this method, a highly concentrated form of marijuana is smoked through a special pipe. Dabs have a higher THC content than other forms of cannabis, so the high kicks in almost instantly.
How long the effects last can vary greatly depending on the dose and potency. The more you use and the higher the THC content, the longer the effects will stick around.
How you consume cannabis also affects when the effects peak and how long they last.
Here’s a breakdown, according to Drugs and Me, a site by the Mental Health Education Foundation:
- Smoking or vaping. The effects peak around 10 minutes after consumption and typically last 1 to 3 hours, though they can linger for up to 8 hours.
- Eating. The effects of edibles usually peak around 2 hours after consumption and can last up to 24 hours.
- Dabbing. Similar to smoking, the effects of dabbing usually last 1 to 3 hours. If using a high THC concentrate, you could feel the effects for an entire day.
Cannabis hits everyone differently, so while your high may only last for a couple of hours, you could potentially feel the comedown or aftereffects for several hours or through the next day. It’s best to go low and slow if you’re new to cannabis.
If you need to cut things short, there are a few things you can try.
Keep in mind that these tips are designed to reduce the effects, not eliminate them altogether. That means you’ll likely still experience lingering effects, including a reduced reaction time, so you’ll still want to avoid driving.
Here are a few pointers based on anecdotal evidence and some research:
- Take a nap. Sleeping can help you relax if your high has you feeling anxious or paranoid. It also gives your body time to process and eliminate the cannabis. You’ll likely wake up feeling refreshed and more alert after a few winks.
- Try some black pepper. There’s some evidence that caryophyllene, a compound in peppercorn, increases the sedative effects of THC, which could calm you. Just take a container of black pepper and have a sniff without inhaling it. Chewing on a couple of whole peppercorns also works.
- Eat some pine nuts. Some research shows that pinene, a compound in pine nuts, has a calming effect and improves clarity. Skip this method if you have a tree nut allergy, though.
- Try some CBD. Yep, it may sound counterintuitive, but CBD may counteract the effects of THC. Like THC, cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid. The difference is the receptors in your brain that they interact with. THC causes the high you get from cannabis, but CBD has a calming effect that may help dull your high.
- Have some lemon peel. Lemons, especially the peel, contain compounds that have a calming effect. In theory, ingesting some lemon peel could counteract some of the psychoactive effects of THC and help you come down. Try steeping some in hot water for a few minutes, then remove them and take some sips.
If you’re looking for a longer-lasting high, consider sticking with edibles. They take longer to kick in, but the effects will hang around longer, which can be a big help if you’re using cannabis for medical purposes.
You could also re-dose or try a higher THC strain for a longer high, but know that you’ll also have to deal with more intense effects. For a seasoned consumer, this is probably not a big deal, but a newbie may find the effects of a bigger dose to be a bit much.
There are some anecdotal methods for extending your high on the Internet, like eating mango, but there’s no evidence to back any of these.
Some websites recommend drinking alcohol with cannabis to extend your high, but it isn’t the best idea.
Drinking before using cannabis — even just one drink — can heighten the effects of THC. This combo can cause some folks to “green out” and experience some pretty unpleasant symptoms, including:
- increased impairment
This combo doesn’t work great in the other direction, either. Using cannabis before drinking can minimize the effects of alcohol, meaning you’ll feel less drunk than you are. This makes it easy to get overly intoxicated.
Plus, using cannabis and alcohol together may increase your risk of dependence on one or both substances.
Find out how long it takes for weed’s effects to kick in and how long they last. We’ve also got tips for cutting things short or extending them.