Cannabis packaging comes in all shapes and sizes, from pouches, bags, jars, plastic containers, and everything in between. Stored optimally after being cured in the correct manner, cannabis can have a shelf life of up to 2 years! Now, it is easy to overlook the delicacy of the cannabis plant, especially when it has been trimmed, dried, cured, and packaged for final consumption in a dispensary. After all, many of us keep other herbs or plants outside, in our refrigerator, or in the pantry. So what’s the big deal for something that can last up to 2 years?
Why does cannabis need to be stored properly anyway?
Cannabis is an extremely complex plant, with hundreds of different cannabinoids and other compounds that interact with the external environment in which they are kept. Things such as oxidation, UV exposure, temperature, and moisture exposure can all affect the shelf life, potency, and taste of your cannabis once you bring it home. Seems pretty important right?!
Exposure to the air involves many things. Our atmosphere, or the air we breathe in and out every day, is roughly 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, with trace amounts of other gasses such as argon, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen. These compounds can affect cannabis, and any vegetative matter, by a process known as oxidation. Oxidation converts much of the available THCa into CBN, another cannabinoid that does not provide the desired psychoactive effects as THCa.
You may have heard the general rule of thumb to keep your cannabis in a cool, dark place. This has influenced a lot of cannabis packaging, such as the dark cylindrical packaging that looks similar to a film canister. Like film, UV exposure to cured cannabis can have negative effects that are quite easy to avoid if stored properly.
If exposed to repeated UV radiation, cannabis can quickly lose potency via terpene and cannabinoid degradation. In order to mitigate this effect, make sure your cannabis is stored in a completely enclosed or opaque container, or kept in another dark place like a drawer or shoebox.
If you want to learn more on how UV radiation affects the cannabis plant, check out our blog article here.
Temperature plays a big role in storing your cannabis as well. You want to aim for a comfortable range – the normal room temperature in your apartment, house, or living quarters is completely fine! What you want to avoid are extreme temperatures – so don’t leave your cannabis on a sunny windowsill or put it in the freezer!
Another very important part of storing cannabis is the moisture levels within the container. If moisture is present, not only can cannabinoids and terpenes be destroyed, but it makes the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. No one wants to smoke that!
So we’ve told you which things to avoid when storing your cannabis. But what should you look for? Again, a good rule of thumb is a cool dark place. As for the actual container, you have several options. A good old plastic ziplock bag works well as long as there is no moisture inside. A small film-like container will also get the job done. The best option that is widely available and budget friendly is a glass mason jar like the one pictured below.
If you want to take your cannabis storage to the next level, there are many different products to help you like specialized containers or humidity packs. These can keep your cannabis as potent as possible until you consume it.
S&S Mylar bags are
Now, while keeping your cannabis stored properly is very important, you also don’t want to keep it stored forever. As mentioned at the beginning of the article, cannabis can have an effective shelf life of up to 2 years. But it starts losing potency long before then! Don’t forget to enjoy your buds, not just store them.