Smokable cannabis is at its best when it’s freshest: Aromatic, flavorful, and “sticky,” fresh cannabis is richer in terpenes and phytocannabinoids like Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that shape the consumption experience. But how can you tell if your cannabis is supporting the best experience? Here, we’ll review the typical shelf life of cannabis flower, how to tell if your cannabis flower is stale, and best practices for keeping flower fresh both at the dispensary and at home.

What is the typical shelf life of cannabis flower?

There may not be a precise expiration date for cannabis flower, but it doesn’t stay fresh forever. Cannabis flower freshness begins to tick the moment cannabis is harvested, and the wrong environmental factors can accelerate its decomposition. Assuming that the cannabis flower is stored at proper temperatures and humidity levels away from oxygen and light, you can expect cannabis flower to stay fresh for at least one year, possibly longer. Cryo Cure cannabis can last for up to two years on the shelf in the right conditions — in an airtight container away from light.

How do I know if cannabis is stale?

Check for these telltale signs of cannabis freshness when in doubt about flower’s shelf life:

  • Smell. This is one of the main tells of stale cannabis. Cannabis should smell potent and not lose its pungent, instantly recognizable aroma. If the flower has a diminished scent, it’s likely lost its potency, too.
  • Visuals. Take a look at the cannabis flower. Do the colors look dull? Are there any suspicious spots that could be mold or mildew? If something about the flower looks off, it may not be fit for consumption.
  • Touch. Sticky bud is a hallmark of its freshness. If the cannabis feels dry, crumbles way too easily, or appears over-compressed, it may mean that it’s too stale to smoke.
  • Sound. Listen to the cannabis – literally. Fresh cannabis should “snap” while being broken apart. If the cannabis flower sounds crackly, it could be past its prime.
  • Experience. When in doubt, try some of the flower. If the strain has a “sluggish” effect, it could be an indicator that the THC has degraded into CBN, a consequence of being exposed to light and heat. If this is the case, or if the flower simply isn’t as potent as expected, it’s time to pick up more cannabis.

What impacts cannabis flower freshness?

Cannabis shelf life is influenced by two distinct but equally important parts: how it’s treated after harvest and how it’s stored once the product is taken home by your customer. Whether at a larger scale in a grow operation or in a small amount at home, the environmental factors that impact cannabis shelf life remain the same. Here are some of the main ones that you should be concerned with, both in your grow op and once the flower is taken home.

  • Temperature: The hotter the storage conditions, the more likely phytocannabinoids and terpenes will evaporate from the product. Plus, temperatures higher than 77 degrees Fahrenheit can contribute to an environment where mold and mildew can thrive. Storing your cannabis flower at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit helps stabilize the cannabinoid and terpene content and negate mold and mildew content.
  • Oxygen: Exposure to air can contribute to flower staleness. Oxygen exposure can occur during the cannabis drying and curing process, or it can be improperly stored once a consumer brings it home. Exposure to oxygen destabilizes THC content, causing this cannabinoid to turn into Cannabinol (CBN), which is the cannabinoid known for causing the “couch lock” effect when consumed.
  • Humidity: Too dry, and flower can shrivel up. Too moist, and mold and mildew can grow. To preserve potency, aroma, and flavor, keep cannabis stored at humidity conditions around 60 percent. Consider using humidity control packets at home to keep moisture levels at their ideal percentages. Commercial grows should take long-term storage conditions into account as well, closely monitoring all factors, including humidity, during the cannabis drying and curing process.
  • Time: The clock is not on cannabis’s side. The longer flower sits around, the more time it has for its phytocannabinoids and terpenes to evaporate. Simply put, older cannabis will lose its potency over time – the question becomes how much potency it loses.

Why should cannabis professionals care about shelf life?

It’s not just what your customers do when they get home that keeps cannabis fresh. Growers, processors, and dispensary managers need to concern themselves with flower freshness, too.

  • Shelf life means improved supply – and money saved. Properly stored cannabis can stay on the shelf for months past its improperly packaged counterparts. For dispensary owners, that means less expired wasted product and more options to sell to their customers.
  • Keeping cannabis fresh impacts other business decisions. So many environmental factors influence cannabis freshness that it needs to be kept top of mind every step of the way. From carefully controlling humidity in the drying room to choosing proper packaging that blocks oxygen, light, and moisture, ensuring cannabis flower stays potent and powerful is a top priority.
  • Fresh cannabis means a good reputation among customers. Competition is tough in some adult-use and medical cannabis markets. How will your dispensary stand apart? For many, product quality is the first and most important product differentiator. Fresh, quality cannabis flower is certain to bring customers back time and again.

How Cryo Cure extends cannabis shelf life

How cannabis is stored at home greatly impacts its shelf life, but as we established here, how cannabis is treated from seed to sale has equal influence on its quality. The clock begins ticking on your cannabis’ shelf life the moment it’s harvested, which is why how it’s treated during processing and packaging is of utmost importance. That’s where Cryo Cure comes in.

Cryo Cure’s patent-pending technology addresses the factors that directly impact shelf life. By cutting the dry time from a few weeks to as little as 13 hours, Cryo Cured flower gets to market faster while tacking time onto its shelf life. The patent-pending process stabilizes moisture content to its ideal levels, reducing the chances that mold and mildew can grow. Finally, the Cryo Cure process preserves the fragile trichomes that contain most of the plant’s phytocannabinoids and terpenes. The result is a smokable cannabis (or hemp) flower we call “live resin” flower, as close as possible to the plucked-from-the-plant freshness that gives cannabis its hallmark scent, flavor, and potency. There’s no getting closer to “fresh” than the Cryo Cured flower experience! If Cryo Cured flower sounds like the freshest fit for your grow operation, contact Cryo Cure to schedule a no obligation consultation.