How Can You Tell When Cannabis is Past Its Best?

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As a cannabis user, you’ve probably found yourself wondering how long cannabis buds last. How long can you hang onto buds before they dry out or, even worse, grow mold? The last thing you want to do is try to grind up and smoke old, dried-out buds.

When it comes to smoking cannabis, you want to use fresh buds. When they’re left to sit, they will eventually lose their potency and flavor, becoming stale and less effective. So when is cannabis past its best, and how can you tell when your buds are past their prime? Read on to discover the telltale signs of less-than-optimal cannabis, and along the way we’ll also give you some tips for keeping your favorite strains fresher longer. 

How Long Does Cannabis Stay Fresh?

Believe it or not, under the right conditions, cannabis can last for quite a while – six months to even a year after the purchase date. However, its shelf life is dependent on several factors. Proper handling during growth and harvesting, and storing it in the right conditions are all essential. 

Unfortunately, as a user, you don’t have control over the quality of your cannabis before you buy it. Additionally, the cannabinoids within your favorite strains begin to break down the longer they sit around. THC degrades into less potent CBN, which means your buds lose potency over time. In fact, buds can lose as much as 16% of their THC in one year. After two years, they can lose as much as 26%, and after four years, they can lose almost half. In other words, you want to consume your buds when they’re at their freshest for the best results.

How Can You Tell If Your Cannabis Has Gone Bad?

While you might not know the conditions under which your buds were grown, harvested, cured, or stored before you bought them, there are several clues that can point toward cannabis being past its prime:

Visual

Fresh cannabis looks healthy, even after harvest. It’s vibrant and colorful. When it’s past its best, your eyes can clue you in. Old cannabis often appears dull, dry, and crumbly. In some cases, especially after exposure to moisture, the visual presence of mold can indicate your buds have passed their prime. At first glance, mold might look like trichomes, but a close inspection of the buds in question would reveal key differences.  Mold isn’t shiny like trichomes, and is normally a gray or white powdery substance while trichomes are more crystalline. Also, mold can sometimes penetrate the surface of the buds. 

Feel

When handling buds, focus on how they feel. Buds that are past their best will often crumble apart easily, almost disintegrating in your hands. Alternatively, if they’ve been exposed to excessive moisture, they can feel soggy. In either case, your buds are past their best and will be less than ideal for smoking.

Scent

Terpenes are the compounds responsible for the aroma (and flavor) of your buds. Fresh, optimal buds will be highly aromatic. The longer your buds sit around, the less distinct scents you’ll be able to detect. In cases of mold, you’ll often be able to smell a musty odor, letting you know your buds aren’t any good anymore.

Sound

While this may seem a bit odd, hear us out. Listen to your buds while you’re handling them. Fresh buds will give a crisp, clean snap when you break them apart. Dry buds will make a crumbling sound, while overly moist ones won’t make any noise at all.

Can You Still Consume Cannabis if It’s Past Its Best?

While you can technically consume cannabis if it’s past its best, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Chances are, you might not want to. Old, dry, or damp buds don’t smoke nearly as well as fresh ones do. They don’t taste as good (or might not have any flavor at all), and they can result in unpleasantly harsh hits. Additionally, you may notice your regular dose isn’t as effective because your cannabis has lost some of its potency. As such, you might not get the same effects as you would with fresh buds.

What Can You Do To Keep Your Cannabis Fresher Longer?

Certain factors can cause your cannabis to degrade faster. Avoiding the following conditions can help keep your products fresher longer:

Light

Exposure to light (direct or indirect) can accelerate the degradation of the cannabinoids and terpenes in your cannabis, causing it to lose potency and flavor more quickly. Instead, store your products in a dark location, such as a cabinet.

Heat

Like light, heat can degrade your cannabis products. While you don’t want your buds (or other cannabis products) in the fridge or freezer, you should keep them in a cooler spot. Again, a cabinet is a great location. Make sure that it’s away from heat sources such as your appliances.

Moisture

Exposure to moisture (humidity) can cause your buds to become soggy, thereby increasing their risk of developing mold. On the other hand, too little can dry them out more quickly. Humidity packs can be helpful for ensuring your cannabis stays fresher longer.

Airflow

Too much airflow can degrade your cannabis buds faster. Using airtight containers limits exposure to oxygen, preserving your products for longer. 

What’s the Optimal Way To Store Your Cannabis?

So, what’s the best way to store your cannabis to ensure optimal freshness? As mentioned above, placing your buds in airtight containers is essential. The best containers for the job are glass containers like mason jars. Again, keep your products stored in a dark location away from direct and indirect light (sunlight and lamplight). Avoid storing them near heat sources, too.

The ideal temperature for cannabis storage is between 60° and 68° Fahrenheit, and the best humidity level is between 59% and 63%. If your storage area is too humid, you can combat the excess moisture by placing a humidity pack in with your buds before closing the container. Proper storage is key to ensuring optimal freshness for as long as possible.

Fresh Cannabis Is Best

Understanding when cannabis is past its best is essential for ensuring that you have and use the freshest products possible. Fresh cannabis smells better, tastes better, and smokes better. It also produces optimal effects. Knowing how to store your buds properly can ensure a longer shelf-life, so you can keep enjoying your favorite strains for several months after you purchase them.


Are you looking for high-quality cannabis? As the best dispensary in Florida, VidaCann has products to suit all of your medical cannabis needs. You can rest easy knowing you’re getting fresh products no matter which of our shops you visit. You can also visit our website and order medical dispensary delivery. That allows you to get the products you need without having to leave your home. For more information and to view our selection of products, visit VidaCann today.‌

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