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When Is Your Cannabis Expired?

Updated September 8, 2022

While cannabis comes with a wide range of benefits in addition to its pleasant psychoactive effects, you do not want to consume cannabis once it has expired. Just like everything else you consume, cannabis will be best by a certain point in time. But, how do you know when your cannabis has expired? Depending on where you live, your state may require any purchased cannabis to carry an expiration date. In this case, the answer is easy. In other situations, however, including when you grow it yourself, follow this advice to tell when your cannabis expires.

A Loss of Scent

One of the many notable traits of cannabis is its characteristic scent. As you keep your cannabis around for longer, you may notice that it starts to lose some of that great smell. If the smell has started to dissipate, this does not necessarily mean that consuming the cannabis will be bad for your health. However, it does indicate that the cannabis is likely less potent, and you may not get the desired effects from it.

Do not expect your cannabis to smell bad if it gets too old. This will not be the case unless it has mold or something else is at play. Instead, it will simply not smell like anything. The plant will start to lose its smell by around a year after harvesting and curing, assuming you store it properly.

Just keep in mind that sometimes the smell will begin to dissipate before the cannabis loses its potency. Because of that, you may want to give it a try to see if it is still potent. If it is, decide how important the smell is to you.

A Change in Color

Over time, the color of cannabis will start changing as the plant gets older. This is not unique to cannabis, as every plant will change color slightly over time. While some slight variations in color are completely normal and nothing to worry about, they can sometimes indicate an issue.

During aging, some moisture can be released from the cannabis buds. This might cause the buds to develop mold. Obviously, you should not consume cannabis that has grown mold. You can prevent this from happening by storing it properly. Opt for an airtight container and keep it away from direct sunlight.

The change in the color of cannabis can take as long as five years when dried. This color change is from the chlorophyll evaporating. At the five-year mark, you probably do not want to smoke your cannabis anyway as it will not be very potent or flavorful anymore.

A Change in Texture and Structure

You can also tell whether cannabis has gotten too old via its structure and texture. Older cannabis tends to be drier. When you try to pull it apart, you want it to snap instead of crackling. If the cannabis crackles, then it is too dry. You will likely have to put up with harsh smoke and less than stellar potency. Alternatively, take a close look at the texture of the cannabis. If it is old, it will probably be crumbly.

You React Differently Than Normal

Perhaps you did not notice either of the above issues when examining your cannabis, so you tried some. Alternatively, you may have decided to consume a little to confirm whether the cannabis has expired. In either case, pay attention to your reactions. It is normal to have a slightly different reaction depending on the strain of cannabis. Even so, you will notice a more pronounced difference when consuming cannabis that is expired.

Expired cannabis will likely make you feel sleepier than you usually feel when consuming cannabis. This is actually one of the best ways to know that the cannabis you just had is no longer in its peak. That sleepy reaction is due to the degradation of some of the major compounds in cannabis. Specifically, THC becomes cannabinol (CBN), and CBN does not have the same strong psychoactive effects and can cause drowsiness.

It Is Less Potent

In addition to experiencing new reactions to cannabis, you may notice reduced effects if the cannabis is expired. Over time, the buds will breakdown and degrade, including the THC. Remember that THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, so if it degrades, you will not experience as many psychoactive effects.

When to Check the Cannabis

It is a smart idea to get into the habit of always giving your cannabis a quick once-over before using it. This lets you spot any of the above indications that the cannabis has expired or is not fit for consumption. Of course, if you go through cannabis fairly quickly, you may not ever need to complete these checks.

Generally, you should check your cannabis at least every few weeks. For sure, check it every several months. Assuming that you store your cannabis properly, you may be able to enjoy it for up to one or two years. It may, however, lose some potency or scent during this time.

What Causes Cannabis to Expire

A few factors can shorten the life span of cannabis and make it expire more quickly. You want to be aware of these so you can control the storage conditions and maximize the life of your cannabis.


If humidity gets to your cannabis buds, it will allow the growth of mold spores. If you smoke cannabis with mold, you may inhale the toxic mold spores. That makes this one of the biggest things to look out for when checking for expired cannabis. Any sign of mold means you should toss the cannabis without hesitation. Some people will scrape the mold off their cannabis and smoke the rest. While this may be tempting, it carries some risk since you may still ingest mold spores.

Mold will eventually grow anyway, but it will happen sooner if you store the cannabis in an area with high humidity. You also want to watch out for extreme differences in temperature. These differences can release moisture from the air, which also increases the chances of mold growth.


Temperature variations are not the only temperature-related factors that cause cannabis to expire. Extremely hot and cold temperatures can also cause problems. When cannabis is exposed to hot temperatures, the cannabinoids break down more quickly, ruining the plant’s potency.

On the other end of the spectrum, freezing temperatures can produce those previously mentioned temperature variations. That can lead to mold growth. Additionally, freezing temperatures can lead to trichomes breaking off, reducing the potency and scent of the plant. At the same time, the cold temperatures can damage the cannabinoids’ chemical composition.

The ideal temperature for storing your cannabis is between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius. That will be the best range for preserving the cannabinoids.


Light is the most destructive factor when it comes to causing cannabis to expire early. Light will cause the cannabinoids in cannabis to breakdown prematurely. Since those cannabinoids are what give cannabis its psychoactive effects and other benefits like stress and pain relief, this makes the cannabis less useful. The good news is that it is incredibly easy to avoid light from affecting your cannabis, provided you remember to take the appropriate steps. All you have to do is keep the cannabis in a drawer or cabinet.


After curing your weed, try to minimize its exposure to air. Oxygen tends to take away electrons, which leads to deterioration. Additionally, the air can dry out the oils carrying the cannabinoids. This can lead to reduced potency and a harsher taste.

Avoid the issue by exposing your cannabis to no oxygen at all via vacuum-sealed containers. Alternatively, you can use a sealed container, so the cannabis only has small quantities of dry oxygen.

Maximize the Life Span With the Proper Container

Since you do not want your cannabis to expire before you can put it to good use, take care to store it properly. Proper storage may seem like a hassle, but it will dramatically reduce the aging process, giving you more time to enjoy your cannabis.

The ideal storage container will be airtight. You should also make sure to place the cannabis somewhere that is not exposed to direct sunlight. Although you may notice that retailers selling cannabis use plastic bags that you can reseal, you should avoid these. They let light get inside too easily, making them only ideal for short-term storage.

If you spend a lot on your cannabis or have a large supply, consider investing in a cannador. These are similar to humidors. Instead, they extend the life span of cannabis by creating the ideal storage space.

Avoid storing cannabis in cedar or plastic. Instead, opt for glass. This will prevent transmission of flavors, which is an issue with plastic and wood. Glass is also easier to seal properly.

Maximize Life Span With Curing

To further ensure your cannabis remains fresh, make sure that it is fully cured before you store it. If the plant is still fresh or wet, let it hang upside down over three or four days. After this, put it in a container and open the lid briefly every two days to release humid air, a process known as burping.

Maximize Life Span by Controlling Environmental Conditions

To further maximize the life span of your cannabis, take steps to control the environmental conditions that you expose it to. You do not need to leave humidity to chance. You can get a relative humidity monitor at a reasonable price. Use this to confirm the relative humidity by the cannabis stays at 59 to 63 percent. A humidor-type container or desiccants can help you keep the relative humidity within this range.

Choose a nice drawer or the closet to store your buds to control the environment even more. These locations will keep the cannabis out of light and be nice and cool. You should also make it a point to avoid heat sources like electronics that may lead to variations in temperatures or temps that are too hot. When possible, store the cannabis in an area that is lower down, such as the bottom shelf of a cabinet instead of the top one.

Do not try to extend the life of your cannabis by storing it in the fridge or freezer. This will qualify as a cold temperature that can cause the previously mentioned issues, including the trichomes falling off the plant, causing it to lose flavor, scent, and potency.

Think of It as a “Best Before” Not an Expiration

When it comes to cannabis, you can usually think about its aging process as a best before time instead of an expiration date. With the exception of harmful substances like mold, you should not notice any harmful effects if you consume cannabis that is past its potency. It is more likely that you will just have to put up with cannabis that does not taste or smell as strong and does not give you the same psychoactive effects that you are used to.

Reviving Cannabis

There are some methods that cannabis users claim will help revive old plants or buds. Some suggest placing it in a glass storage bowl along with a wet cotton ball and sealing it. This will add back moisture, but you need to make sure you do not over-moisturize the plant as that will cause mold.

Alternatively, consider adding some citrus peel. The peel’s oil will rehydrate the buds. Just keep in mind that some of the flavor from the peels will transfer to the buds. Adding a lettuce peel works in the same way but without changing flavors.

What About Cannabis Oils?

All of the above information applies to the cannabis plant itself, including the buds and flowers. Cannabis oils are different because they have additional ingredients. Any cannabis oil you buy should have an expiration or best before date on it. Pay attention to this since the oils and other ingredients in the cannabis oil can cause it to degrade more quickly. Alternatively, those additional ingredients may go bad before the cannabis does.


To tell if your cannabis expired, check its smell, texture, and color. Unless the cannabis has mold, you are unlikely to experience negative consequences from using it. You just should not expect expired cannabis to have the same potency as the fresh plant.

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