Wednesday August 5, 2020

By Andrew Ward


Marijuana is often considered a magical plant, for all its possible healing properties. While accurate in many instances, the reality is that the plant's magic is not all-reaching. For example, the plant is far from everlasting; it does have an expiration date.

Consuming pot that’s gone past its prime could leave the consumer with a not-so-pleasant experience, leaving them feeling tired or even unwell. The good news is that there are numerous ways to identify expired cannabis before you consume at your next session. That said, some will blow past these signs and take in some less-than-fresh pot anyway. If that’s the case, there are more obvious signs to be aware of as well.

Keep an eye out for these indicators along the way, because unlike cheese or wine, your pot won’t get better with time.

The Smell of Your Pot and Its Freshness

Where'd that pungent fuel smell go from your strain of Sour D? If your pot has aged, there's a good chance that smell has gone away with its freshness. The loss in smell is caused by terpene degradation, as the naturally occurring compounds lose their quality or completely degrade away.

Colors Aren’t Always a Good Look on Cannabis

Green may be the color most associated with cannabis, and rightfully so. That said, it is far from the only color found in the diverse range of cultivars. Such colors include blue, purple, orange and several others. Often, these tones indicate that the flower is rather healthy or comes with some degree of quality.

Colorful cannabis plant
While color is normal in certain strains of cannabis, other times it can indicate your weed is expired.

However, that isn't always the case. In some instances, when the color is yellow, brown or sometimes white, you likely have an expired plant on your hands. The same can be said for a plant that loses its vibrancy. A dull-looking plant is no better. Once the flower fades, consider putting it down.

Monitor Your Marijuana’s Moisture

A good nug will come with a slight bit of moisture. While you can assess a bud’s moisture in several ways, its best form is represented by the visual and sound that accompanies breaking up a nug. That slight pull of the nug and its subtle, bending that leads to a muted, damp snap is the mark of fresh flower.

On the other hand, expired marijuana will feel dry to the touch. It’s likely to have a slightly more audible snap when broken apart, with flower likely to scatter about a bit more when broken up. In short, if your flower breaks and falls to the ground when pulled apart, it's likely past due.

No Moldy Mary Jane

Mold in your blue cheese dressing is perfectly suitable. However, mold in your Blue Cheese is not suitable at all. The best way to spot mold on any flower is by giving it a close inspection. Keep a keen eye out, white powder that resembles kief may actually be mildew. Eyeball your bud for other indications such as a fuzzy texture on the flower or discolorations like dark spotting.

An example of moldy cannabis. photo credit

Sight may work for some, but smell may be a more straightforward indication. As the terpenes degrade and its aroma reduces, the smell of mold may soon fill the bag. Keep in mind that not all flower will become moldy during its expiration. The right conditions will either prevent or even accelerate the molding process. If the cannabis is left in an area where it is exposed to little fresh air, it could begin to mold in a matter of days.

Flavor Degrades Along with Smell

Terpenes are core components of crafting a strain’s smell, just as much as it does its taste. When it declines, so too does the flavor. Unlike its aroma, when the cannabis flower’s zest declines, it doesn’t revert to a neutral flavor. Instead, it tastes pretty terrible.

Degraded cannabis often smells and tastes like hay.

The good news is that unlike eating or drinking past-due produce items, expired cannabis won’t kill you. It will, however, leave you with a real bad taste in your mouth. So, try to avoid it unless you absolutely need it to get by. Your taste buds, as well as your smoking buds, will thank you for it.

Even Sativa Has You Sleeping

Most often, indica strains are associated with putting people on the couch, with sleep soon to follow. While true, those that smoke flower past its prime pot may have experience the same effects, regardless of strain classification. The changing of effects is brought on by the degrading of the plant. Like it does with terpenes, the aging of cannabis flower results in compounds changing, including THC.

Known for its psychoactive effects, the cannabinoid THC, which itself is only activated after decarboxylating THC-A, eventually becomes cannabinol (CBN).

CBN, however, is known for its ability to put people to sleep, and will certainly alter the effects of even the most potent sativa. The change in cannabinoids could be felt two-fold, as consumers aren’t likely to feel the same head high as they would with fresh flower. In time, the lack of high is expected to be coupled with effects that leave the person feeling drowsy.

Store Your Cannabis Properly

Now that we've established how to identify cannabis that’s gone bad, it's time to understand how to delay the process from occurring. For consumers holding a small, personal amount of product, they should be fine using airtight containers. Most people recommend a glass container, but others will do as well.

Keeping out the air is part of the battle. Additional helpful steps include keeping any products, plant or otherwise, out of direct sunlight where UV rays and heat can wreak havoc on marijuana. To further avoid any issues, consider picking up UV-protected containers. Finally, store your sealed products in a cool area where it can remain undisturbed by light or heat any more than it needs to.

What are your tips for detecting bad weed? Share your strategies in the comments!

Photo Credit: StayRegular (license)

Andrew Ward Andrew Ward

Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn-based cannabis writer and creative. His work has appeared on Benzinga, High Times, PROHBTD and several other publications and brand blogs. He has covered the cannabis space for over three years, and has written professionally since 2011. His first book, "Cannabis Jobs," was released in October 2019. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn to stay up to date.

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