How to Store Cannabis
The delicate biology of cannabis is reaching new levels of understanding as new cannabis research emerges. Cannabis cultivators are creating high-quality flower products that are delivered to consumers at the peak of freshness. After all this work to deliver craft cannabis products, many users don’t know how to preserve that quality by using proper storing techniques.
This article will show you the detrimental effects of improper cannabis storage, along with the best practices for how to store cannabis.
Does Cannabis Expire?
With proper storage, cannabis products can keep their potency between one and two years, according to the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. Like any consumable product, cannabis has a shelf life, which is affected by the environment in which it is contained.
When storing cannabis, your chief concerns are:
Improper storage can expose your cannabis products to these factors, which affect the product in a variety of ways. Here are the effects of improper storage, from toxicity to cannabinoid breakdown.
What Improper Storage Does to Cannabis
Mold is among the worst things that can happen to your cannabis. It can destroy your cannabis plant during cultivation, and can even be toxic if smoked or ingested. Mildew, Botrytis cinerea, and aspergillus are the most common molds that grow on cannabis, and they should be avoided at all costs.
Mildew thrives between 77° and 86° Fahrenheit, and relies on excessive moisture to spread. White powdery mildew appears as sporadic white spots on flower, and can be hazardous if ingested. If your cannabis has a mildew smell and sickly white spots, it should be discarded.
Botrytis cinerea grows from the stems of cannabis flower as pale hairs that quickly destroy it. This mold primarily affects cannabis plants during cultivation, and rarely forms on cannabis plants after harvest.
Aspergillus is the most harmful mold that grows on cannabis flower. In high concentrations, these mold spores can be extremely hazardous to those with lung conditions like asthma or weak immune systems. Unlike Botrytis cinerea, Aspergillus commonly affects cannabis products after harvest.
The best way to keep Aspergillus from developing is to keep your products away from excess moisture; store your cannabis in a dry environment.
Light-induced cannabinoid degradation:
When cannabis is exposed to excess sunlight, the cannabinoids suffer. According to The Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, light damages cannabinoids more than any other factor.
“Exposure to light (not direct sunlight) was shown to be the greatest single factor in loss of cannabinoids especially in solutions, which should therefore be protected from light during analytical and phytochemical operations.”
Remember to store your cannabis products in dark places, like drawers and opaque containers.
Drying and curing are essential parts of the harvesting process, but cannabis can dry out after the harvest. When cannabis dries out, cannabinoids and terpenes degrade. Dry cannabis flower is less potent, and is harsher when inhaled.
Exposure to heat and air can cause your cannabis to dry out. Store you cannabis in vacuum-sealed containers in dark environments between 50° and 60° Fahrenheit.
How to Store Cannabis Flower
When it comes to storing cannabis flower, there are plenty of options. Keep the above hazards in mind, and remember the four natural enemies to cannabis flower:
Ideal conditions for cannabis flower storage
Keep your cannabis in the dark as much as possible. Sunlight and artificial light are both detrimental to cannabinoids. Ideal storage options include drawers, opaque containers, and cabinets.
Cannabinoids and terpenes thrive in a relatively narrow temperature range, between 50° and 60° Fahrenheit. Cannabis flower should be kept slightly below room temperature, but not refrigerated or frozen. Most refrigerators are too cold at 40° (while exposing cannabis flower to various molds and mildew), and freezing cannabis will have a dramatic effect on the terpenes and cannabinoids. Ideal storage options include cool spaces with no light.
Excessive humidity is a recipe for mold and other contaminants in your cannabis flower. Ultra-low humidity can have a degrading effect on cannabis trichomes, while drying out the flower. It’s best to keep cannabis flower between 59% and 63% humidity. Humidity packets can add humidity to dry storage situations.
Like light, exposure to open air has an oxidizing effect on cannabinoids, which breaks down cannabinoids. THC eventually converts to CBN with exposure to oxygenated environments, which results in a less potent cannabis experience.
Best cannabis storage methods
Glass jars are ideal for cannabis flower storage, since glass is neutral, air-tight, and affordable. From mason jars to sophisticated smell-proof containers, glass is a time-honored classic.
Polypropylene offers similar features to glass, without the risk of shattering. Polypropylene is the way to go for plastic cannabis storage. Other porous plastics can sap the cannabinoids from your cannabis through static.
Air-tight hardwood boxes:
Non-porous hardwoods can be a stylish choice for a stash box. Bamboo, maple, alder, balsa, beech, hickory, mahogany, oak, teak, and walnut make for great containers, so long as they are air-tight. Avoid using cigar humidors and woods like cedar, because these products will sap the cannabinoids from your cannabis flower.
Worst cannabis storage methods
Sandwich bags are perhaps the most common form of cannabis storage. Luckily, these are used less and less. The static of sandwich bags sucks the terpenes and cannabinoids from your cannabis flower, and are easily punctured.
As mentioned before, freezing cannabis has a devastating effect on the quality of your cannabis. Cannabis is a very fickle plant, and freezing flower disrupts the delicate balance of cannabinoids and separate trichomes.
The refrigerator may be a bad choice for cannabis storage, as various contaminants and mildews circulate in refrigerators that aren’t properly cleaned on a regular basis. A refrigerator is only a good option for storing cannabis under the following conditions:
- The cannabis refrigerator is separate from the refrigerator you use to store food
- The refrigerator is properly cleaned and sterilized at least once a week
- The cannabis is sealed in an airtight jar, such as a mason jar, within the refrigerator
- The refrigerator maintains a constant internal temperature between 40° – 50° Fahrenheit (4.444°- 10° Celsius)
- The refrigerator has a constant internal humidity between 59% and 63% humidity.
Need an Expert Opinion?
There is a universe of cannabis storage options on the market. Some are simple and cheap, while others offer high-tech features. If you’d like to know more about how to store cannabis and the best storage products available, become a Happy Valley Insider and join our mailing list by scrolling down and entering in your email or contact us.
For more information on the complicated biology of cannabis science, be sure to read The Ultimate Guide to Cannabis Science.