Dear Mother,  

I know several folks* who have smoked super dry old joints from more than a decade ago and have been like, “mmm… Good weed.” So… does it really go bad/stale? Because everyone says it does, but when putting this claim to the test (much like testing folks who insist that they’re “allergic” to MSG), the claim just doesn’t seem to hold up.  

              — Wondering about Way-old Weed

*Won’t say how. 

Related: Here’s What Bad Weed Actually Looks Like 

Dear WAWW,

Great question, and one I know a lot of folks are curious about. Can weed “go bad” or expire and what happens if it does? The great news is that if stored properly, cannabis and its potency can last a really long time.

But first, let’s talk about a few misnomers.

If properly stored, marijuana won’t “go bad” in the sense that it will have a negative effect. It’s not like milk where it spoils and gives you food poisoning. Think of it more like dried herbs you use in the kitchen (since, you know, it pretty much is just dry herb!). If not well stored, they can lose their potency. You can certainly still add them to whatever you’re cooking, but they won’t have the same POW as fresher herbs.

Same with cannabis. If you don’t pay attention to how you stash your stash, it can lose potency over time and get very brittle and dry. So, for those of you who somehow still manage to have decades old marijuana, here are my tips for making the most out of it, so you can still enjoy the most out of it.

Proper storage. You need to make sure you’re storing your stash in the right way. A lot of people tend to favor using baggies, but in addition to harkening back to my high school days and crummy ditch weed dime bags, storing your cannabis in a Ziploc isn’t the best. It can easily dry out, and it’s not as airtight as it could be.

A glass or ceramic jar is your best bet. It will keep the right air/moisture balance and will prolong the shelf life of your cannabis. If — for some reason — you’re planning to hold on to a stash for longer than 6 months, it might be time to vacuum seal it away for ultimate freshness.

Regulate the moisture. You don’t want your marijuana to get too dry or too wet. Too wet and you risk the potential of growing mold or bacteria, and NOBODY wants to smoke moldy weed.

Too dry, and your throat will burn, it will taste pretty crummy, and it can also lose its potency. Keeping your flowers in an airtight container should help. If you find that it’s way too dry, wet a q-tip or cotton ball and place it near the cannabis (try not to get your herb actually wet) to allow for some moisture to enter the air and rehydrate your parched pot.

Keep the temperature steady. In addition to moisture, you want to make sure that your stash isn’t exposed to high heat or bright light, so don’t leave it on the dash of your car all summer. In fact, if your cannabis was hit with high heat and lots of light, it could actually cause a change in cannabinoids, lowering your pot’s potency and creating a shorter-lasting high.

So, make sure to store your stash in a cool, dark, dry place. However, do NOT freeze your marijuana. Unlike ground beef, cannabis will not keep well in the freezer, and you risk it becoming very brittle when you take it out to use.

Also, consider stashing your cannabis in a locked safety box (there are ones made just for storing cannabis!). Not only will that help regulate temperature and light, but it will also keep it safe and sound from children, pets, and nosy folks!

                      — Mother