How To Store Your Medical Cannabis

Posted by Buddha's Garden on 2020 Dec 13th

How To Store Your Medical Cannabis

We've all asked ourselves throughout our cannabis careers, "How long can my cannabis stay fresh for?" Could be some extra nugs you want to safely store until you can consume them later, or a long-lost stash you found after deciding to hide from yourself for safekeeping months in advance. Being able to store your medical cannabis for long-term use is a beneficial skill to master.

Properly dried & cured cannabis is best kept in a cool, dark place, like a fine ageing wine or barrel of whiskey. Although there is no real expiration date for medical cannabis, if you store it well it should last anywhere from 6 months to a year before losing potency and flavour. However, there are a few key factors to consider when storing your medical cannabis for prolonged periods.

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Humidity Ratios For Medical Cannabis Storage

Humidity control is essential to keeping mould, mildew and other bacteria away from your medical cannabis. Keep your medical cannabis stored in a controlled environment with Relative Humidity (RH) anywhere between 59% and 63%. Take care that your RH doesn't drop too low, as you risk your trichomes becoming frail and drying out the essential oil for flavour. Including Boveda 2-Way Humidity Packs in your storage practices is a great way to keep your RH levels balanced within your jars, without all the hassle of constantly checking.

Perfect Temperatures For Storing Medical Cannabis

Things like moulds, mildew and other living matter reproduce & flourish in temperatures between 77° and 86° F, so keeping your cannabis in a cool, dark place will help assure the safety of your smokable buds. Higher temperatures can also dry out your medical cannabis, degrading the cannabinoids and terpenes that took you months to grow and develop. Once these essential oils and plant material dry out too much it can produce a very "hay-like" harsh smoke.

Cooler temperatures slow the decarboxylation of the cannabinoids, prolonging the conversion of THCA into the euphoric THC we all know and love. THC further degrades into CBN, which has different effects & properties more suited for medicinal purposes, so the prolonging of temperature degradation is crucial to flavour & potency.

Proper Lighting For Medical Cannabis Storage

Destructive UV rays damage many organic and synthetic materials. Just like a sun-bleached beach towel left out on a long sunny summer day, or the fading of a freshly painted car not sheltered in the garage, UV rays will degrade your medical cannabis over time.

A 2012 study conducted at the University Politehnica of Bucharest in Romania concluded that an increased rate of THC decay can be observed in higher temperatures and light when compared to darkness and lower temperatures. Other studies suggest that cannabinoids remain stable for up to 2 years when stored under the proper conditions, although it can remain safe for consumption and effective for much longer.

Making sure to store your medical cannabis out of direct sunlight will also help control the internal temperature of your storage jars. This will also prevent moisture or steam from forming on inside your jar, stopping pesky things like mould & mildew from growing.

Air Regulation For Medical Cannabis Storage

Oxygen is necessary during the growing and curing process, storing your medical cannabis in a container like a Mason jar, a great container that provides just the right amount of air to keep it fresh and containment free. Having too little air greatly affects the RH levels, especially if your buds are not completely dried before storage.

Although, having too much air will oxidize your medical cannabis and speed up the degradation process of the cannabinoids and other organic material exposed to oxygen. Vacuum sealing perfectly dried medical cannabis will help with oxygen exposure and prolong aroma and freshness.

A Quick Summary Of How To Store Medical Cannabis

Things You Should Do

Things You Shouldn't Do

  • Store out of direct sunlight. Preferably in a cool, dry place.
  • Store in a refrigerator, fluctuations in humidity and temperature encourage mould/mildew growth. If you must refrigerate, vacuum-seal thoroughly and allow to return to room temperature before opening.
  • Use hygrometers and other products like Boveda to oversee and control the RH levels.
  • Use cheap plastic bags or containers. Plastic often has a static charge that attracts trichomes. 
  • Vacuum-seal jars and containers to minimize oxygen exposure.
  • Store in the freezer, unless you're preparing concentrated. Freezing temperatures cause the trichomes to break off, losing potency and flavour.
  • Separate your strains, flavour and aroma profiles can mix together so it's much better to keep them apart. Label your jars and containers with a date for a better estimated "expiration date"
  • Use a tobacco humidor. Most use natural woods with oils that can be absorbed and influence the flavours of your medical cannabis. 
  • Store in containers that are neutrally charged, like glass. Mason jars are perfect for medical cannabis storage.
  • Store in grinders, pipes, bongs or other paraphernalia with your medical cannabis. The ash and resin from burning cannabis tend to alter the flavour.
  • Smoke your herb within six months of harvest for the best flavour and effects.
  • Store around appliances or electronics. Technology can give off enough heat to encourage THC degradation. Lower cabinets, shelves or in the basement of your house is best.
Storing Cannabis-Infused Products

Other cannabis infused products, such as edibles and other perishable items will have different storage methods, follow packaging instructions for best results. Keep your edibles in a locked container to avoid unexpected cannabinoid exposure.

Alcohol/glycerin based tinctures and other cannabis concentrates also go through degradation when exposed to heat, light, humidity & time. Remember to keep extractions sealed tight in the containers they came in, placing them in a cold, dark, dry place for storage. Extractions and tinctures typically have a shelf-life of about a year, they will last much longer when stored in the fridge.