Can Your Cannabis Go Bad?
Look on any packaging of any medication, food, beverage, or preserve and you’ll find an expiration date. This expiration date helps to better determine the shelf life of household items to know if they are still safe and effective to utilize. For those who make use of cannabis for health and wellness, this brings up an important question; can my cannabis go bad? The truth is, just like any vegetable or flower, cannabis, in all it’s forms, can expire or lose it’s potency. Finding out that your supply is unusable can be an upsetting, possibly hazardous, as well as costly, conundrum. Below, we’ll take a look at various factors that can contribute to cannabis expiration and a few ways to keep them from happening to you.
Cannabis Flower Expiration
Although cannabis flower will not become dangerous or hazardous to use, herbs left for long periods of time without use will lose their potency in a variety of ways. THC, short for Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the cannabinoid, or component of the cannabis plant, that provides many of the health and wellness benefits offered by cannabis. The amount of THC in any strain and even in individualized plants is the culmination of a variety of factors, including the growing conditions and overall genetics of the plant. Many strains bred for wellness uses have a moderate amount of THC as to allow other health promoting cannabinoids to also aid the body.
Regardless of how much THC content your flower has, when exposed to air, light, and heat, the cannabinoid can break down into another cannabis component known as Cannabinol, or CBN. CBN is non-toxic and you can still safely use your cannabis flower. However, as Cannabinol is a soporific substance, a noted increase in drowsiness may be noticed. Cannabis flower that is a year or more older may also suffer from this break down as terpenes, an essential oil found in Cannabis that aids it’s effects and provides the patent stickiness and odor of the plant, also degrade over time.
Though cannabis flower will not expire to the point of toxicity, the freshness and potency will certainly diminish overtime and if not stored properly.
A Short Guide to Inspecting Your Flower for Freshness
Knowing how to tell if your cannabis has lost its freshness and potency is imperative in knowing if the flower will deliver the same effects. A few different ways to tell if the potency of your cannabis has degraded are:
- The smell of your flower is a good indicator of its freshness. If the original odor of the strain has diminished and it now possesses an aroma of hay or a stale smell, more than likely the potency has diminished. This is due to the terpenes having degraded in the plant.
- Potent and fresh flower offers a sticky, springy sensation when handled. Crumbly, dustiness in your flower indicates that it may have lost its freshness. This is due to the cannabis becoming too dry.
- The appearance of your cannabis can also provide a way of knowing if the flower is still potent. A darker color than before may indicate that your flower has become susceptible to mold, the cannabis plants worse enemy, while a lighter color is a sign of a loss of potency.
Cannabis Topical and Oil Expiration
Just like cannabis flower, topical and oil based cannabis products have an expiration date. However, unlike using cannabis flower, continuing to use some forms of cannabis topicals, or oils, after the expiration could result in negative health effects as oils and topical ointments can go rancid. The shelf life of cannabis oils and topicals have a variety influencing factors including quality of the product, method of extraction, storage method, and others. However, the average shelf life of cannabis oils and topical products is around fourteen to twenty-four months.
Much like cannabis flower, keeping your cannabis oils and topical treatments away from heat, light, and air is essential in maintaining their potency. If your oil or topical product has any expiry date on the package, it a good idea to follow this guideline to ensure safe use of these type of cannabis products and to prevent health consequences related to their having gone rancid or unusable due to non-cannabis related oils or ingredients expiring.
In conclusion, given time, any form of cannabis will lose its potency, or become unusable due to the ingredients used in their crafting. Knowing how to properly store your cannabis and cannabis products can help maintain your supplies’ freshness and usability. For cannabis flower, storage in a small light, air tight, light proof container will allow your plant to keep its freshness and potency much longer than if stored without these conditions in mind. For oils and topical based cannabis, much of the same rules apply. A refrigerator is the perfect storage option for these type of cannabis products, but not for flower, as the cold could damage the freshness and degrade potency.
For more on cannabis freshness and potency, and to share your experience using cannabis for health and wellness, check out our community forums where you’ll meet a multitude of people interested in using cannabis for a better quality of life just like you!