While storing weed dates back to ancient Egypt, we’re fortunate enough to have better options than clay pots in the 21st century.
Now that marijuana is legal for medicinal and recreational use across the country, many are left clueless on how to keep their stash as fresh and potent as the day they purchased it. Add to that the increasing number of ways you can consume cannabis — from edibles to hash to good old fashioned buds — and there can be a lot of confusion.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to properly house your weed:
The mortal enemies of pot
Similar to fine wine, there are two major things to avoid whenever you’re storing reefer: light and air. Both of these have negative effects on trichomes, the tiny resin glands that give the best buds their frosty appearance.
“You should always keep your product in a cool, dry place out of the sunshine if you want to retain the THC content,” recommended Genifer Murray, founder of testing lab CannLabs and owner of Carbon Blue Consulting.
Not that there aren’t some small advantages to storing in light. “If you are looking for CBN — which is the breakdown of THC — light is perfect,” Murray noted. “CBN has it’s own medicinal qualities and some say is great for sleep.”
Popular myths on storing weed
The biggest no-no in preserving your pot is tossing a bag in the freezer. Most of the THC in your buds is found in the heads of those trichomes, and those heads rest at the top of very thin stalks that are impossible to see with the naked eye.
When frozen, those stalks become brittle and break easily, winding up on the side of whatever you’re storing it in and not in your lungs.
Traditional product fails
Tempting as it may be, simply buying a humidor designed for tobacco can cause severe problems when used for weed.
“Cigar humidors are lined with Spanish Cedar, which can taint the taste of your bud because cedar imparts oils,” said Zane Witzel, owner of Cannador, a line of high-end humidors designed specifically for cannabis.
He also warns that the high humidity levels traditional humidors are designed to produce can create issues as well, as “too much humidity has the risk of causing mold.”
Witzel recommends a level of “between 55% to 62%, which somewhat depends upon how sticky the user likes it when it’s smoked.”
Household items like plastic bags or vacuum sealers are often used to store weed, but do little to protect it from light and provide no protection against your stash getting smashed.
Where is storing weed legal?
Each state has their own rules and regulations on where marijuana can be stored, so it’s important to know the law where you live.
In states like Alaska and Washington, open container laws that once only applied to alcohol now count for cannabis, too, meaning residents have to keep them in the back seat or trunk when in transit. Make sure you know the local laws.
Additionally, individual businesses often institute their own policies on drugs on the premises. Most self-storage units do not allow customers to store pot onsite, as it creates liability issues when it comes to insurance.
Finally, you’ll want to consider the safety of children and minors in your home when considering storage options. Just like a liquor cabinet, having somewhere with a lock or combination can keep those who shouldn’t have access to your marijuana out of harms way.
What the professionals prefer
When it comes to a fresh harvest, don’t think you can get away with trimming your plant and tossing it in your pipe. “Based on science, storage time is best in between 2 weeks and 3 months cure time,” said Max Montrose, co-founder of The Trichome Institute. Done in the right humidity and with low light and exposure to air, you’ll wind up with the best final product.
Sohum Shah, CEO of the Cannabis Commodities Exchange, prefers that dispensary clients use tinted jars that allow buds to continue to cure or age, but that isn’t always the case.
“Unfortunately, most clients store it in plastic 1-lb bags so it’s ready to move which ends up diminishing product quality.” said Shah.
When it comes to bags, many consider StinkSack to be the leader in the market, offering smell-proof options that are great for those looking to be discreet while their cannabis is on the shelf.
“I discovered a combination of three plastics with completely different properties did the trick really well when laminated a specific way,” said Ross Kirsh, founder of StinkSack on the process it took to develop the perfect bag.
Not only do they prevent odors from leaking out, but Kirsh also worked to provide child-proof options for consumers after Colorado passed their legalization initiative.
“It was a perfect fit for our mantra: a product that would significantly improve the safety of cannabis users while supporting social acceptance and the broader goal of legalization,” said Kirsh.
How to best store concentrates
One of the most popular new methods of getting high are concentrates, also called wax, shatter, or live resin. They’re derived from raw cannabis but present a different challenge for buyers.
“If you keep weed in a jar at room temperature, it’ll be fine for months generally,” said Ry Prichard, a Denver-based concentrate expert. “If you keep a dry wax with a lot of surface area in a jar with air exposure, it degrades quite a bit faster than that, becoming a shell of itself in probably 2-3 weeks normally.”
Since one of the highlights of these concentrates are increased flavor and scent, making sure you preserve both is a must for true connoisseurs. Prichard stresses how keeping a consistent temperature, between 40 and 65 degrees, will help preserve the initial consistency of the product.
How to store edibles
The rule of thumb on edibles, whether it’s a pot brownie or a medicated chicken pot pie, is to observe the expiration date and generally treat it like any food product. Make sure that ingredients are listed on the label and use those to determine a “Best by” date if none exists.
Remember: if the food spoils, it doesn’t matter how much THC is in it.
Jake Browne is a cannabis critic for the Denver Post. He is also the president of Hemp Box, a monthly subscription service that delivers a selection of hemp-based products.