Does weed go bad?

You’ve probably heard of someone who tried out “way-too-old” weed and claims that they got the biggest hit of their lives, haven’t you? Well, while this may not be entirely a myth, some things must be made clear.

Technically speaking, weed does not go bad. You can compare it to some dried basil or oregano. With time, the herbs may lose flavor but they hardly go stale.

Weed is a plant and over time, the cells begin to break down and oxidize, especially when exposed to extreme conditions. This may change the chemical structure of the components in weed, but these changes should not kill you.

A few things about weed

Weed is made up of numerous compounds which include phytocannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other nutrients. Cannabinoids are responsible for most of the therapeutic effects of weed, as well as cerebral marijuana high. Raw cannabis contains cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) which is the precursor of most cannabinoids. CBGA gives rise to THCA and CBDA which convert to THC and CBD respectively. These changes are prompted when the buds are dried out and heated. The process by which the acidic compounds produce THC and CBD is known as decarboxylation.

How weed can go bad

If the stored weed is exposed to excessive heat and light for a prolonged time, the THCA may be converted into a different compound, CBNA instead of THC. CBNA will give rise to CBN when heated. So when you consume such a kind of weed, you will not be able to experience the typical marijuana high that you were anticipating. The hit may also be harsh on your throat. But CBN is soporific and has antibacterial properties; it has also been shown to stimulate the growth of bones. As much as you will have lost on potency, you can still find some good use for this weed.

Stored weed may also catch mold when it is exposed to a lot of moisture. Weed with mold is not easy to smoke and could also cause infections in your lungs. Keep of such kind of weed. With mold, you can easily identify a dense grayish cobweb on the sides on different areas of the flower.

Also, over kept weed will lose its taste and flavor. In the aesthetical sense, this is not the kind of buds to call out to you. You may need some motivation to get you interested in giving it a try. The epic cannabis green may now appear brown and dull and the sticky snow flaked trichomes may be lackluster. The earthy scent of weed may also diminish.

Roughly, weed should be able to keep for at least two years, when stored in optimum conditions.

So how do you store weed for it to keep

Like most other plants, the compounds in weed are shy of excessive temperature and direct sunlight. To begin with, get a mason jar that does not allow in excessive light. The jar should also be airtight to keep out moisture from the environment. Remember that moisture is not your friend; you do not want to breed mold and bacteria. Finally, store the mason jar in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight. Do not be tempted to freeze your marijuana as you will only make it brittle and less flavorful. Remember to keep your jar out of the reach of children who may decide to get “Albert Einstein” with it.

How to tell that your weed has gone stale

When weed is not properly stored, it may form molds and become dangerous for your consumption. In this case, expect to see the presence of molds on some of the buds or leaves of the plant. There will also be a change of smell that is different from the usual earthiness of fresh weed.

With shatters and tinctures, it may be difficult to identify staleness. Always make sure that you source your cannabis products from licensed manufacturers and ask to have a look at the CoA of the product. This will alert you of the presence of any bacteria in the product when manufactured and give you an approximated shelf life.


  1. Inverse (2016): How to tell if your stash of weed has gone bad. Retrieved from
  2. Reasearch Gate: CBGA. Retrieved from
  3. Wikipedia: Cannabinol. Retrieved from
  4. Wikileaf (2018): Moldy weed, how to avoid it and what to do when you find it. Retrieved from
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