Does Weed Expire? 2023 Guide

Published March 20, 2023
Does Weed Expire? 2023 Guide - Secret Nature

Weed is good while it lasts, but it doesn’t last forever. Like all other plants, cannabis is prone to decay over time, and this decay begins to set in the moment a bud is snipped from the vine.

Eventually, even the freshest weed will, indeed, expire. When does weed expire, though, and why? In this guide, find the answers to every question you could ever ask about weed expiration.

Overview: Does weed expire?

First, let’s cover some basic facts. Yes, weed does expire:

  • Weed expires within around a year
  • It depends on how you store it, though
  • Improperly stored, weed can expire in a month or less
  • Stored perfectly, cannabis could theoretically remain smokeable forever
  • Cannabinoids and terpenes inevitably degrade, however
  • Resulting in potency decreases over time

We’ll get into the details as we continue. For now, just remember that weed can certainly expire, so prepare to take proper precautions.

How long does weed stay good?

Weed generally stays good for around 6-12 months when properly stored. Storing weed properly, however, can be challenging, leading to cannabis going bad or even becoming contaminated with mold after just a month or two. Even if it’s still smokable, keep in mind that the cannabinoids in older weed have degraded, reducing potency.

How do you know if your weed has expired?

If you’re wondering if weed expires, chances are that you’re most interested in finding out if weed in your possession has expired — i.e. whether it’s still smokable or not. Use these seven steps in order, and by the end, you’ll know one way or another if your weed has expired:

1. Check the expiration date

First, check if the cannabis product in your possession has been equipped with a labeled expiration date. Smokers who remember the illicit cannabis industry may scoff at expiration dates being provided with weed, but it’s a fact that many modern weed products feature clearly labeled expiration dates. If you can’t find this information in a weed product’s labeling, check its online information, and contact the producer as a last resort.

2. Visually inspect the buds

Experts can tell how old weed is just by looking at it. You aren’t expected to have an expert’s experience, but you can learn how they look at weed just the same.

First, keep in mind that cannabis varies in appearance significantly depending on the strain. Overall, though, fresh cannabis has a brighter, more colorful appearance while old or expired cannabis usually appears more dull.

3. Keep an eye out for mold

When you visually inspect your weed, you’ll also have a chance to check for one of the other surefire signs that cannabis has expired: the presence of mold. Since fungi like mold thrive in damp places, it’s only natural that mold can appear on cannabis that is stored improperly. On cannabis, mold usually shows up as a wispy gray dust that is easier to see with a microscope.

4. Perform a smell test

Moldy weed will smell — well, funky. It’s hard to describe the aroma, but anyone who has smelled moldy weed will remember the scent for the rest of their lives. Be especially wary of any smell of rot while sniffing your nugs. If your weed has a reduced aroma overall but doesn’t smell moldy, that can be a sign that it’s old.

5. Crush a bud with your fingers

As weed ages, it dries up and becomes brittle. If your weed has not expired, it should feel springy when you squeeze it between your fingers, and your fingertips should be left sticky with oil. Weed that is no longer sticky or that crumbles into dust in your hands has certainly expired past its usable lifetime.

6. Test its moisture content

There are simple and cheap tools called humidistats that you can buy online or at a hardware store to measure ambient humidity. Pop one of these tools in your jar of weed, and see what it reads. Cannabis should be kept at around 10-15% humidity — if it falls below 10%, it has become too old and dry to be smokeable.

7. Send it in for analysis

Still not sure if your weed has expired or not? Send it in to your local cannabis testing lab. They’ll be able to provide a detailed analysis of the moisture content of your weed, and they’ll also be able to tell you if it contains any mold. Keep in mind, though, that analyzing cannabis usually costs at least $100 — likely much more than you paid for the weed that you want to analyze.

What is the best way to store weed?

If you want to make sure your weed stays good the longest-possible amount of time, you’ll need to keep it in a sealed container, choose a suitable location for the container, monitor its moisture content, and remember to open the container every once in a while. Let’s take a look at each of the steps involved in proper cannabis storage in more detail:

Step 1: Keep it sealed

First, weed needs to be kept in a sealed container or it will dry out. Even when left out on the table overnight, weed will be dry as a bone the following morning (unless you live in a particularly humid climate). The same goes for plastic bags and other methods of storage that often spring leaks, leading many smokers to keep their stash carefully stowed away in resealable glass jars.

Step 2: Keep it cool and shady

Even once it's in a sealed container, you’ll need to take further precautions to ensure your weed stays good. Especially in the case of transparent glass jars, it’s essential to keep your smaller weed storage containers inside a larger container like a plastic tote. You don’t need to make sure the tote is airtight since the jars already are. From there, just place your storage containers in a cool area that’s out of direct sunlight.

Step 3: Monitor moisture

If you plan to store your weed for a while, you’ll need to check its moisture content occasionally. Many smokers equip each weed jar with a moisture sensor that they can simply remove and check on a weekly or monthly basis. Remember that an ideal moisture level for long-term stored weed is around 12-13%.

Step 4: Burp occasionally

Weed likes to stay sealed when it’s stored, but it also likes to get some fresh air every once in a while. Even after it’s fully cured, open your weed jar every once in a while to “burp” it or allow air to recycle. While you’re at it, take a whiff to make sure your weed isn’t going bad.

Expired weed FAQ

To finish up, let’s turn to some related questions:

What makes weed go bad?

Just like any other plant, weed is made from delicate components that degrade over time. There’s nothing in particular about cannabis that makes it go bad — it’s just a plant. Factors that can accelerate the decay of weed, however, include storing it improperly or allowing it to get too moist.

What happens if you use expired weed?

In most cases, using expired weed will be harmless. You just won’t get as high as you expected. If your weed is expired in the sense that it’s moldy, however, that’s an entirely different situation. Never smoke mold weed no matter what, and keep in mind that doing so could be fatal.

How do I check for weed mold?

The best way to check your weed for mold is with an inexpensive handheld microscope equipped with a built-in flashlight. Under magnification, weed mold is visible as a wispy, light-gray substance attached to the surface of the buds. Advanced mold infections are visible without a microscope since they have made entire sections of the buds in question become decayed and gray.

Can you eat expired weed?

Eating expired weed shouldn’t be a problem unless it’s moldy. Cooking it won’t add potency back to expired weed, however. It’s just a convenient way to get rid of weed that’s too dry to smoke.

Can I store weed in the freezer?

No, do not store your weed in a freezer. Freezing weed can damage its active components, reducing its overall potency. Weed should be kept relatively cool, but it should not be refrigerated or frozen. 

The bottom line: Does weed go bad?

In the end, is it fair to say that weed goes bad over time? Yes, cannabis eventually expires — one way or another. You can simply hope that the form of expiration your weed happens to take does not involve mold or other contaminants that could pose a danger to your health.

If weed simply dies a natural death due to old age, that’s nothing to mourn. Perhaps you should have used it earlier, but nobody came to harm.

Smoking moldy weed, however, could cause long-term, debilitating health issues, making it essential to inspect each and every nug before you smoke it. As long as you take proper precautions, expired weed shouldn’t be anything to be concerned about.

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