Originally published 7/1/22, expanded 4/25/23, edited 10/18/23
In a perfect world, purchased cannabis would last forever. You could buy a massive amount, store what you don't use, and keep it on hand until it was gone without it losing potency or quality. However, on the most basic level, cannabis is a plant, and plants don't last forever - even if they are cured for longer storage.
If you are planning to keep weed for longer than a few weeks, it's a good idea to get familiar with long-term pot storage. What's the best way to store weed long-term? How long can you store weed? Will long term weed storage ruin your bud? Below is an in-depth guide to how to store weed long-term, the best containers for storage, and more.
How To Store Weed: The Essentials of Cannabis Storage
Why Proper Storage Matters
Storing weed correctly means doing all you can to preserve those valuable cannabinoids and terpenes. Cannabinoids deliver effects and terpenes deliver flavor and aromatics. Both cannabinoids and terpenes start to deteriorate with time and with exposure to the elements.
The 4 Pillars of Long-Term Storage
There are four primary considerations when it comes to storing weed for as long as possible:
- Temperature - The best temperature for cannabinoid and terpene protection is around 70° F (21º C) or below
- Humidity - Humidity levels should be kept between 55 and 65 percent relative humidity
- Oxygen - Airtight protection deters terpene and cannabinoid oxidation, which causes cannabinoids to deteriorate and terpenes to evaporate
- Light - UV light combined with heat degrades and synthesizes cannabinoids, potentially converting THC into CBN (cannabinol)—a non-intoxicating cannabinoid
See a more in-depth explanation of these factors in: How to Keep Weed Fresh & The Best Humidity & Temperature for Storing CannabisCheck Out Our Humidity-Controlled Stash Jars
The Best Long-Term Cannabis Storage Solutions
The best way to achieve long term weed storage is in an airtight glass storage container. Glass does not contain damaging chemicals, and it protects the weed from being exposed to the air.
For light protection, you can easily keep a jar in the dark, or opt for a glass jar with a UV-protective covering - such as Evergreen glass jars, which have a tight-fitting silicone sleeve to block light and provide shock protection.
Moisture & Humidity Management
The final threat to weed that is being stored for long periods is moisture or humidity. However, with the right supplies, this, too, can be controlled. Humidification Pods, for example, attach to a metal jar lid to keep moisture levels in the jar in the optimal range to protect the quality of the weed.
Choosing The Best Storage Containers
The best weed storage containers offer protection from the primary threats and protect the quality of the plant material.
Glass is hands-down the best material for a stash jar. You could go with a glass mason jar in a pinch, and this would be far better than a plastic bag or container. Glass can be fragile, so ideally the glass jar would also have some sort of shock protection.
For a stash jar dedicated to storing weed, look for one with integrated features to support long term weed storage. Some important factors when selecting a stash jar:
- The right jar size for the quantity
- Some form of humidity control
- Good seal to deter air exposure
- A protective exterior to thwart UV light
- Odor protection
Looking for the best options? Here are the Top 3 Stash Jars on the Market Right Now
How long does weed last? Does weed go bad?
So, how long can you store weed really? Most sources state that in optimal conditions, well-stored cannabis can last between six months and a year. The general guideline to enjoy cannabis while it still has all its flavor and potency is to use what you have within six months. Some older studies have shown that weed starts to actually lose its potency after about the one-year mark. Take a look:
- 16% THC lost at 1 year
- 26% THC loss at 2 years
- 34% THC loss at 3 years
- 41% THC loss at 4 years
In reality, however, the lifespan of weed varies depending on how it is stored. If you keep cannabis in the right conditions, you can deter issues with mold, preserve terpenes and cannabinoids, and keep weed fresher for longer. It is not uncommon for someone using the best long term weed storage solutions to pull out their flower well beyond the six-month mark and still have a quality stash.
What about mold?
Weed doesn't really go bad per se unless it starts to mold, in which case the weed can "go bad" in such a way that it wouldn't be safe to smoke. Mold growth occurs when the weed is exposed to too much moisture. This can show up as dark spots, spots of gray or white, or even just an "off" odor, all of which can be a little hard to spot. Other than mold issues, the weed won't really "go bad," but it will lose its flavor and potency. When that happens, it will not have the same effects, aromatics, or taste as it did previously.
Find out more about mold on weed in: Mold on Weed: Here’s What to Know
Should you store weed in a plastic container or bag?
In short, no. Plastic poses a few problems when it comes to storing marijuana in a way that maintains the quality of the flower, whether it is in a plastic bag or another container. For one, plastic often gathers static electricity, which is not something you want your weed to encounter while in storage. The static can disturb the delicate and brittle trichomes that cover the plant, which is where the terpenes and cannabinoids are the highest concentrated.
Another issue with plastic is its chemical nature. Most plastic is derived from fossil fuels, and some plastics contain worrisome chemicals, such as bisphenols and fluorinated compounds. Additionally, most plastic bags are not airtight enough to protect cannabis from the effects of outside air long term.
See a more in-depth explanation in: Should You Store Weed in Plastic Bags & Containers?
How long does weed stay good in a Ziploc bag?
A while, but you don't want to chance it for any longer than necessary. If you must store your weed in a Ziploc bag, keep the storage time as short as possible. A few days should be the limit. If you do place weed in a bag, remove as much air as possible and handle the bag and cannabis as little as possible to deter static.
Other FAQs on How to Preserve Cannabis
1. How long should weed be cured before storage?
The general recommendation is to make sure the buds have been cured for at least four weeks. The goal is to only store weed once it is at its peak potency and flavor, but non-cured weed could also have a higher moisture content that can lead to mold.
2. How long can you store weed in a bag?
As noted earlier, plastic is not a good option for long term weed storage. In fact, if your weed came in a plastic bag, it may be best to get rid of the bag within a few days. Plastic bags, even those with a zipper closure, can dry out your flower in a short time frame. Your best bet is to find a different storage alternative if you are not planning to use all the flower right away.
3. Should you keep weed in the freezer?
Can you freeze weed for long-term storage? Yes, but this is not the best idea. Freezing cannabis can be especially hard on the trichomes; most will fall off if you handle the cannabis while it's frozen. Plus, unless done in an extremely controlled way, freezing is likely to introduce moisture contamination.
4. Can you use a cigar humidor?
Cigar humidors are specifically designed to keep tobacco cigars fresh for as long as possible. These wooden storage boxes may even have a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels. However, cigar humidors are not good for weed storage. Humidor boxes are often made with oil-containing woods like cedar, which can affect the flavor profile of the cannabis stored inside. Further, the humidity levels used to maintain tobacco are higher, which may lead to mold growth for cannabis.
See a more in-depth explanation in: Storing Weed in a Humidor (Can you do it?)
5. How do you know if weed is bad?
Weed that is old may not necessarily be bad, so you can't really assume weed is bad because it has been in storage for a long time. What you should look at is color, smell, and consistency. Old weed usually turns brown or tan, smells weak or like hay, and may be brittle and crumbly. Mold can also make its way into improperly stored weed, which may show up as dark spots, white or gray sections, or white fuzz. Old weed is unpleasant but generally safe to smoke, but smoking moldy weed can be dangerous, avoid it.
6. Are there any storage solutions for larger quantities of cannabis?
For larger quantities, many cultivators use vacuum-sealed bags or containers, often with humidity control solutions like humidity packs to maintain the right moisture balance. For home storage, many find that a large (up to one gallon) glass jar performs well when paired with an airtight lid and a humidity-control device. If using Evergreen Pods to regulate humidity, use one pod in a quart jar or three pods in a gallon jar.
7. Is there any difference in storage needs between indica, sativa, and hybrid strains?
Generally, the basic storage principles – temperature, humidity, oxygen, and light – apply uniformly across indica, sativa, and hybrid strains. However, certain strains may have more delicate terpene profiles that can be affected differently by the storage environment, but these differences are more strain-specific than strictly indica or sativa related.
8. How do I know that my weed has lost its potency if I don't know the original THC percentage?
The most reliable way would be through laboratory testing. However, anecdotal indicators include a change in scent, appearance, and the effects when consumed. If the cannabis smells less pungent or has a more hay-like aroma, it might have degraded.
9. Are there natural indicators, like scent or texture, to determine if the humidity level inside my storage container is right?
A proper humidity level ensures the cannabis remains slightly springy to the touch. If it's too dry, it'll crumble easily, and if it's too moist, it might feel sticky or damp. A hay-like smell can also be indicative of overly dry cannabis.
10. Can cannabis edibles or concentrates, like hash or oils, be stored in the same manner as flower?
Not necessarily. While cannabis flowers thrive at certain humidity levels, edibles and concentrates have different needs. Edibles should be stored as you would any food product, often in a cool, dark place. Concentrates should be kept in a cool environment, often in airtight silicone or glass containers, away from light.
11. What's the difference between Evergreen jars and other UV-protected jars available on the market?
There are several features that set Evergreen jars apart from others. They are fitted with a tight silicone sleeve that blocks sunlight, is attractive and comfortable to grip, and offers shock protection from minor drops and bumps. The lid on the Evergreen jar offers an airtight seal, and has a specially designed outer finish for labeling with an erasable marker.
12. What should I do if my cannabis has been exposed to undesirable storage conditions for a short time? Is there any way to "revive" it?
Using a humidity pod can keep your flower at the proper humidity to preserve terpenes. It can also reintroduce moisture to dried out product to restore freshness. Once terpenes are lost, however, they cannot be reintroduced.
13. How frequently should I check on my stored cannabis to ensure it's still in good condition?
For long-term storage, checking every couple of weeks is a good rule of thumb. Ensure that there's no mold formation and that the humidity and aroma remain consistent. Include some sort of humidity control device to ensure that your cannabis stays in the proper humidity range.
14. How do humidity pods work, and are there different brands or types to consider?
Humidity pods or packs release or absorb moisture to maintain a specific relative humidity level inside the storage container. Popular brands include Boveda and Integra Boost for disposable packs, and of course Evergreen makes the only reusable pod.
15. Can I store multiple strains together in the same container, or is it best to keep them separate?
It's best to store strains separately. Different strains have unique terpene profiles, and mixing them can result in the flavors and aromas blending, leading to a less distinct experience for each strain.
16. Does grinding the cannabis before storage affect its longevity or quality?
Yes, grinding increases the surface area exposed to air, light, and humidity, which can accelerate degradation. It's best to store buds whole and grind them when you're ready to use.
17. Is there a way to recycle or repurpose old or less potent weed?
Less potent weed can be used to make infused oils, butters, or tinctures where the combined amount can still offer desired effects. It can also be used in cooking or baking.
18. Are there any specific signs of terpene deterioration?
A decrease in the aromatic potency or a change in the scent profile of the cannabis is an indicator, especially when the muted aroma persists after grinding. Terpenes are responsible for the distinct aromas of cannabis, so if your flower starts to lose its characteristic scent or smells more like hay, terpenes are likely deteriorating.
Useful Tips and Additional Resources
- For understanding the nuances of keeping cannabis fresh, consider reading: How to Keep Weed Fresh & The Best Humidity & Temperature for Storing Cannabis.
- Seeking a top-tier storage solution? Explore Evergreen Storage Solution for a comprehensive package.
Stay informed, and ensure that your cannabis remains fresh, potent, and safe to consume.