Whether you’re picking up a few oz to last you awhile, or harvesting a grow, proper storage is necessary to preserve the quality of your marijuana. This is even more so true for the growers who have invested their time into cultivating their bud. Without proper storage, you can experience weed degradation that can affect the aroma, flavor, and more importantly the potency of your flower.
Why you shouldn’t be using plastic baggies for your weed
The common method of selling weed, both pre-legalization and now, is in plastic baggies. Whether it’s a jewelry bag, a sandwich bag, or the odorless bags used by some dispensaries, it isn’t where you should be keeping your weed long-term. This is simply the most economical option for your dealer/dispensary selling and transporting in small quantities.
If it’s less than a week's supply of weed, degradation is not something you have to worry about, but static electricity is something to keep in mind. Due to the static in plastic baggies, cannabis trichomes, or kief, easily stick to the outside. (I’m sure we’ve all seen the sandwich baggie full of kief at the bottom.) Trichomes contain the cannabinoids and terpenes that produce both the medicinal and psychoactive effects of weed. This can become worse if you freeze your weed, as the trichomes become fragile and more likely to break off, but we’ll get more into that later.
What to think about when storing your weed
The main things to consider when storing your cannabis are temperature, moisture, light and oxygen. Some may also consider the smell of their weed as a factor, but it isn’t fundamental to ensuring the quality of the bud. Do be advised though, some strains can be particularly fragrant. This can cause problems for those not in legal states, or those worried about the neighbors.
Keeping your cannabis in low temperatures with next to no oxygen will help prevent decarboxylation, or the natural decomposition of the plant. You will need to cure your cannabis properly to pull out excess moisture if you’ve just harvested your weed. This won’t be necessary if you’ve purchased after this process is complete.
Losing too much moisture during the curing process can dry out your bud and cause it to become brittle—breaking off those precious terpenes and cannabinoids. Alternatively, not pulling enough moisture out of your weed can allow for the development of mold. The American Society for Testing and Materials, created to develop technical standards for commercial industries, specify keeping between approximately 55-65% relative humidity. Relative humidity above 65% increases the likelihood of mold development. Humidity Packs help for longer-term storage, though not necessary for smaller quantities.
High temperatures can be a factor of your bud losing too much moisture and drying out, but if stored with too much moisture, the temperature can facilitate the growth of mold. Mold thrives between approximately 78 and 86 degrees, therefore storage temps are recommended to be below this. The ideal temperature is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Everyone says to store weed in a cool, dark place, but there is much more to consider. This general statement usually leads folks to the fridge/freezer. Though heavily debated, we do not recommend this. The increased moisture content can become a problem if your stash isn’t sealed properly and freezing can cause trichomes to break off when moved out of the cold. Freezing separates the trichomes from the bud, which alternatively makes it a great way to make hash.
Light & Oxygen
Exposure to light is, “the greatest single factor in loss of cannabinoids,” according to a study published by The Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. Scientists studied the stability of cannabis and its preparations on storage. The exposure to light and oxygen will slowly turn THCA into THC, but also degrade existing THC into cannabinol, or CBN. This cannabinoid does not have the same psychoactive properties and instead produces feelings of sleepiness and confusion.
Improper sealing, or oxygen trapped inside the container before sealing, can also cause trichomes to oxidize, changing the aroma of your marijuana and reducing potency. If possible, vacuuming sealing is recommended for long-term oxygen exposure reduction.
Choosing your storage method
The study previously mentioned published by The Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology concluded that if cured and stored properly, the cannabinoids in weed can remain stable for upwards of 2 years. Most of us can’t keep weed that long before smoking it, but it’s important to know for growers and smokers alike.
To protect your weed from the elements, we recommend an airtight glass container for both long-term and short-term storage alike. There are airtight plastic container options, but the plastic can cause the buds to sweat moisture out. UV jars work perfectly to seal and protect from light, but mason jars in a dark, cool room is a cost-effective storage option for growers and smokers alike.