Just last March in Canada, government officials proposed a bill that requires that legal marijuana should be sold with packaging that shows several warnings and other information, which includes the expiration date.
But does marijuana actually have expiration dates?
Does Weed Expire?
It actually depends on the type of cannabis you bought and how you store it.
The brand manager and a marijuana expert of one of Quebec’s biggest marijuana company Canopy Growth, Adam Greenblatt, explains that cannabis has more of a “best before” time that ensures the quality and freshness.
Adam Greenblatt, a marijuana expert and the brand manager of one of Quebec’s biggest marijuana company Canopy Growth explains that cannabis has more of a ‘best before time’ that ensures the quality and freshness.
“Dried flower generally has quite a long shelf life, but after about a year, it starts to lose its smell,” Greenblatt said. “The THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) doesn’t degrade as quickly, but the subjective quality of it starts to degrade, so we use about a year as a rule of thumb.”
The cannabis compounds that give the flower a “skunky” odor are called terpenes. Greenblatt said that the absence of this smell in the dried cannabis flower can be a good signal that the potency of the purchased marijuana has weakened, something that happens over time if it is not properly put into storage.
The brand manager also added that after a certain period of time, the terpenes will decrease, and you can notice the change in the smell over time.
After a long time, take for example five years, the cannabis flower begins to become brown because chlorophyll evaporates.
Zach Walsh, a cannabis researcher and a psychology professor from the University of British Columbia says that the government is not wrong when they say that dried cannabis has an expiration date.
Marijuana’s therapeutic properties change over time while the flowers deteriorate in quality. That is why he supports the application of expiry dates on cannabis merchandise to advise the consumers about their purchases.
Mr. Walsh also reported that the chemical components of cannabis also degrade and change and he believes that one of the great benefits of legalization is that people will have a better understanding of what they get with their marijuana purchases in terms of its potency.
Walsh considers cannabis flowers ‘expired’ not because it is harmful to the user but because it won’t deliver the promise in its packaging.
Which begs the question, what are the changes when cannabis flower gets dried?
Canopy Growth explains that THC, a cannabinoid that provides some of the medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant as well as the buzz, may reduce through the course of time if the flower is not properly stored.
Adam Greenblatt also added that cannabis is best stored in air-tight storage and must be left in the dark because light aggravates THC.
Although even with the best storage of dry cannabis, Walsh said that the composition of the flower, called cannabinoids, will fall and change over time.
“There’s a bunch of different cannabinoids, chemicals, inside herbal cannabis. Some have a somewhat similar structure and over time they’ll degrade and turn into one another,” Walsh said. “Something called CBN, cannabinol, THC and other cannabinoids can degrade into cannabinol which has a different psychoactive profile than THC, so it does change.”
According to Walsh, the time period before you can observe the changes in the properties of marijuana’s properties has not yet been determined. But the professor believes that it’s only about a few months before you can see some big changes in marijuana.
Storing Your Weed Properly
With regard to storage, most people keep their dried cannabis inside the refrigerator or freezer. They assume that this can help contain the natural smell of cannabis. This practice should not be considered or done.
Greenblatt does not recommend it and he explains that the trichomes on marijuana are very fragile that when they are frozen, they can fall off when you take it out.
According to Greenblatt, you can inadvertently reduce the quality of your cannabis if you keep it in a freezer because the part that contains cannabinoids are easier to break when they are chilled.
According to Health Canada, marijuana should be kept in a cold, dry place and inaccessible to children and pets.
On the other hand, cannabis oils may expire over time and should not be exhausted and used after the expiry date.
The manager of Canopy Growth said that since cannabis oils are considered food products, the marijuana sap is inserted into an oil like sunflower oil or some kind of food oil.
The oils can be rancid in the end, so it is best that an expiration date is put on the packaging of cannabis oils.
The Canadian officials said that the proposed plain wrapping will show the date when the packaging was done and the best before the date.