CANNABIS DOESN'T HAVE A “SELL-BY” DATE

Even the most diligent stoner has misplaced that small bag of bud they bought a few months back. And like a prodigal son returning to his kingdom, finding that bag of weed feels like all your Christmases have come at once. The trouble is, your once prized marijuana now looks a little worse for wear. Those once vibrant green buds now appear brown and slightly dishevelled. Naturally, our thoughts turn to the most obvious question: can I smoke weed that is months old?

Cannabis isn’t like food, and it won’t make you ill if you consume it after several months. That is, as long as your weed hasn’t developed mould or bacteria in its downtime. Smoking contaminated weed can bring a whole host of problems and is best avoided. Store your weed correctly, and it can be used months, if not years, after first being harvested. What you need to be aware of is, despite looking pretty much the same, the chemical structure of your cannabis will have changed significantly depending on how well it was stored.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LEAVE WEED TO ITS OWN DEVICES?

Under the hood of every carefully selected bud is a sophisticated collection of compounds called cannabinoids. Of the dozens and dozens that we know about, THC, CBD, and CBN are the most abundant. However, this compositional structure isn't set in stone, as each strain of cannabis will have cannabinoids in different measure. The chemical changes that take place while a cannabis plant is growing continue even after buds are harvested, stored away, and forgotten about at the bottom of a drawer.

You see, cannabinoids are quite volatile in nature, reacting to the presence of light, oxygen, and heat. If you take THC as an example, it begins life as THCA, a non-psychoactive compound that needs to be decarboxylated for users to get high. By applying heat to THCA you remove the extra carboxyl group, and the new compound, THC, reacts with the body in an entirely different way to THCA.

Expose either THCA or THC to the atmosphere or UV light for long enough, and further changes occur. This time, both compounds become CBNA and CBN, respectively. The longer you leave the weed, the higher the concentration of new compounds versus old. Although CBN isn’t bad for you, it is different, and different isn’t always what people are after.

THCA, CBNA, CBD, THC

APPROACH OLD MARIJUANA WITH CAUTION

CBN or cannabinol won’t get you high per se, so if you were hoping for a trippy renascence with your weed of old, that is off the cards. What CBN is good at is acting as a potent sedative, soothing muscles and helping you sleep. So old weed won’t get you as high, but it might help you get a good night’s rest.

Depending on how long the marijuana was left undiscovered, the buds could have become so dried out that they are incredibly harsh to smoke. This can be both uncomfortable and unpleasant, and in most cases, is what puts people off. Vaping the aged herb will help mitigate some of the harshness, but be aware it will combust at a faster rate, so you won’t get as much vapor out of old buds compared to fresh ones.

CONCENTRATES EXPERIENCE THE SAME CHANGES

Just like cannabis flower, concentrates experience the same chemical changes when left exposed to the elements. Alongside the cannabinoids that have broken down over time, the terpenes will also degrade, so expect aged concentrates to be both higher in CBN and lower in flavour.

It is possible to retain the majority of a concentrate’s integrity as long as it is stored correctly. The exact rate of degradation has yet to be scientifically tested, but it can be slowed as long as we remove the two factors that cause the chemical change in the first place—UV light and oxygen.

Cannabis Edible

IF YOU WANT TO PRESERVE QUALITY, CORRECT STORAGE IS THE ANSWER

If you want to prevent harsh, dried-out cannabis and a sleepy, non-psychoactive experience, investing in adequate storage is the way forward. By choosing containers specially designed to limit your herb’s exposure to oxygen, UV light, and heat, you can dramatically slow the degradation of THC to CBN. Your marijuana will stay fresher for longer, and you needn’t panic about trying to finish your whole stash in one go.

It is important to note, the length of time that cannabis will maintain its integrity has yet to be thoroughly tested, so always visually check your weed, especially if it's been stored for an extended period. For expert advice on how to store cannabis flower, click here. Our extensive blog covers everything you need to know about storing cannabis for long periods. If you have decided to experiment with concentrates or edibles, we have a similar guide to help keep both commodities at their best.

Store your cannabis in the right way, and keep the good times rolling night after night.

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