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How to Tell if Your Stash of Weed Has Gone Bad

Avoid the conundrum by just storing it well in the first place.

Let’s say you chance upon a stash of weed you forgot about some time back. Happy day! But … is it even good? You don’t even remember stowing it away, let alone when you bought it. Can you still smoke it?

Can Weed Go Bad?

The good news is, weed doesn’t really “go bad;” its chemical makeup just changes. Marijuana is a plant, just like the veggies and herbs in your kitchen. Cells break down, molecules oxidize. Just as the dried oregano in your spice rack becomes less flavorful over time, weed becomes less potent. Old weed won’t kill you, but it also won’t get you all that high.

How to Store Weed

The best way to avoid this question in the first place is to store your weed properly. Glass or ceramic containers are your best bet. You want to make sure the container is airtight, and won’t transfer smells or flavors onto your precious weed. Store your pot in a dark, cool refuge that’s not your refrigerator or freezer — too cold environments can suck the sweet, sweet moisture out of those leaves.

Fresh weed is full of the cannabinoids CBD, CBC, and THC, but sit your weed down for a bit in ultraviolet light (i.e., sunlight), and your THC will break down into CBN, a cannabinoid that is way less potent and much more disappointing. Basically: Keep your weed in a still, dark, cool environment, and you’re guaranteed the best flavor.

But let’s say you didn’t get around to storing your weed like you should have, and now you’re stuck with a Ziploc bag of mystery marijuana that may or may not be good.

Appearance

If your recently discovered stash doesn’t look much like weed anymore, just some dried out powdery leaves, it’s probably not going to be all that enjoyable to smoke. If you spot a fuzzy white powder growing on it, your weed is moldy and you definitely shouldn’t smoke it, unless you want to risk heart and lung problems. Mold spores, like moist places without a lot of airflow, which can happen if you store your weed where it’s too moist.

Sound

When you pull apart your re-discovered weed in your hands, you should hear snaps, not crackles, which can mean your weed is too dry. If your weed is silent, it has a lot of moisture, and you should be on the lookout for mold.

Smell

If your old stash smells musty, or like urine or a locker room, mold is probably the culprit. Chemical or plastic scents are a result of poor storage or pesticide contamination. Old weed might not smell as strong as the day you stuck it somewhere and forgot about it, but it shouldn’t have any off smells. Weed should smell like weed.

Taste

If it looks like your old stash is free of mold, and you decide to light some up, you’ll know pretty quickly if it’s really gone bad just by the taste. It should still taste like weed, without off flavors.

Smoking poor quality weed won’t hurt you (with the exception of mold) — it just won’t be quite as enjoyable as the fresh stuff. You probably won’t get as high thanks to a lower THC content, but that’s about it. Enjoy your re-discovered stash!

Avoid the conundrum by just storing it well in the first place.

Identifying Old or Bad Cannabis Past Its Shelf Life

Cannabis can have an indefinite shelf life, but only if all of the proper conditions have been met. For cannabis to truly stand the sands of time, one must not only handle each process of the growth and harvest cycle carefully, but also store the cannabis properly. If all of these conditions are met, one could be enjoying their favorite strain 10 years from now with little quality degradation.

Unfortunately, not all cannabis is cultivated with this level of precision and since consumers can’t control the quality of their cannabis before it reaches their hands, having the ability to identify mishandled cannabis that is typically labeled “old” or “bad” is an imperative last line of defense. After all, nobody wants to puff a bowl of bone dry and/or moldy ganja.

Here are five cues you can use to sense if your cannabis is old or bad.

Aromatic Cues

Terpenes are fickle; they don’t want to stick around for very long if they aren’t being treated well. Take this as an easy first cue in determining whether or not your cannabis is smoke-worthy. A vibrant bouquet of terpenes is typically an indicator that your cannabis is fine, although it’s important to detect other penetrating scents that may indicate a compromise in quality.

Musty, mildew smells may be a red flag for mold presence. Chemical aromas could be a sign of improper pesticide use or flushing opportunities. Improperly stored cannabis may also draw scents from their containers. Any of these unwelcome smells that you may come by should prompt you to put the herb down and reconsider. Even no smell at all is fishy, so if you’re concerned, see if any of these additional cues also raise red flags.

Visual Cues

Cannabis has a wonderful way of showing off its aesthetics when it’s healthy, even “post-mortem,” so to speak. Conversely, undesirable cannabis has a way of letting you know when to say “pass,” as well. One identifier of cringe-worthy cannabis is whether or not you can even tell if it’s cannabis at all. Old and dried out cannabis will break apart into a fine powder with minimal effort. Not to be mistaken with kief, broken down, dried cannabis will contain particulates such as stems or even seeds in some cases. Where seeds and stems are not indicative of bad cannabis, their presence can sometimes be an identifier.

In most cases, mold on cannabis can be identified visually. Mold can take on several appearances, but one easy way to identify the differences between mold and trichomes is by seeing where the concentration is. Mold will grow over trichomes, appearing as a powdery white mass that can penetrate every surface of the afflicted flower. Keep in mind that mold can also occur beneath the visible surface of cannabis nugs, which is why breaking apart flowers can help determine their quality.

Tactile Cues

Handling your cannabis can be a great way to identify critical quality cues. If you have identifiable nugs, pull them apart. Are they over-compressed? Does there seem to be any moisture content? Does the herb disintegrate in between your fingers? All of these cues can be identifiable by making physical contact with your herb. Furthermore, deconstructing your flowers is a great way to identify penetrating mold that may not be initially available to the naked eye.

Audio Cues

This may sound a bit like a stretch of the imagination, but listen to the sound of your nugs breaking apart between your fingers. Properly dried and cured flowers will audibly “snap.” Dried stems will also snap. These are good audio indicators that your buds are still within their moisture sweet spot.

Brittle, old, and dry cannabis will sound crackly between your fingers. Not only will you be able to feel the dryness, but that sound should be a clue as well. Conversely, cannabis with too much moisture content won’t make any sound at all, as it will be much more difficult to pull apart.

Taste Test

At the end of the day, if your cannabis looks good, smells good, breaks apart with no issues, and gives you that wonderful snap sensation, try it out. If you haven’t taken the time to inspect your herb first, I don’t advise skipping straight to smoking it before determining if it’s old or bad. That said, bad cannabis does not smoke well, which you’ll figure out very quickly into your first puff. Sometimes you just have to dig in and give it a try (although you should, at the very least, inspect for mold first).

Consumers can’t control the quality of cannabis before it reaches the shelf, but there are ways to sense if it’s old or bad. Find out what to look for.