So, I’ve gone over the basics of selecting cannabis that’s safe and free of contaminants at your local dispensary. You should also know that the way you store cannabis can also affect how safe—and enjoyable—it is to consume. Mold growth can occur in your home just as easily as it can on a farm or in a grow facility, so safe storage practices are essential.
In this article, part of a series geared towards folks new to cannabis, I share some guidelines on how to keep your marijuana safe, potent and mold-free. By following these best practices, rest assured your cannabis will stay in the best condition possible.
When it comes to storing marijuana, start off right by picking a good container. Cannabis should be stored in an airtight container, ideally either a glass jar or a container designed specifically for cannabis storage. Avoid using plastic containers or bags, as this can affect the flavor of your cannabis.
Minimizing oxygen content in the jar is also important since oxygen can break down cannabinoids. Keep your jars sealed tight and choose a jar size that allows you to store your cannabis loosely with only a small amount of space at the top. Avoid packing the cannabis in—compressing or squishing it together can lead to mold growth.
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One of the most important rules for safe storage is to keep your cannabis in a cool, dark place. Temperature is a crucial factor in keeping cannabis safe and potent. In a hot and dry environment, cannabis will dry out, and its cannabinoids may get damaged or altered. In a moist, hot environment, the potential for mold and bacteria growth goes up.
On the other hand, you also don’t want to refrigerate or freeze cannabis. If you refrigerate cannabis, the humidity fluctuations might actually increase chances of mold growth. Freezing cannabis is a safer option, but the plant’s medicinally rich trichomes might break off when frozen, which can reduce the potency of your medicine. The ideal temperature range for cannabis storage is between 40 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit—not too cold and not too hot. Whatever you do, stay in the cannabis Goldilocks zone.
Keep your cannabis away from sunlight, because UV rays have the ability to break down the organic compounds present in the plant, thereby decreasing its overall potency. In one study, light was found to be the biggest factor in the degradation of marijuana’s potency. However, when stored in the dark at a cool temperature, cannabis could be kept without changing or degrading for one to two years.
When it comes to storing your cannabis, finding the Goldilocks zone also extends to humidity. To avoid mold growth, make sure your cannabis isn’t too moist. On the other hand, if it’s too dry, marijuana might become less potent and will burn much more quickly—which means you’ll likely lose more of it in the air when smoking than you otherwise would.
Check your buds before storing them to see how moist they are. To test your cannabis, press the flower gently between clean fingertips. If your cannabis flower feels more like a living plant than a dried herb, it’s probably too moist. Sometimes cannabis is sold close to its harvest, and before it’s been properly dried out and cured. Properly cured buds will have some flexibility when you press on them, but will still be easy to break apart. If they crumble apart when you squeeze them, they’re probably too dry. If they stick to your fingers or are difficult to break up into pieces, they may be too wet.
If your cannabis is too wet, you can dry it out by leaving the top of the jar cracked open. Check your cannabis every day and then seal the jar completely when it’s dried out enough. If moisture is a concern, you should also make sure to keep checking for signs of mold. If you find any mold, discard the cannabis.
If your cannabis is too dry, you can add a humidity pack like those made by Boveda into your cannabis jar, and it will reinfuse the flowers with moisture. Never try to add water or moisture directly to your cannabis as this creates the conditions for mold growth.
Once you’re confident your cannabis is at the ideal moisture level, you can put it into airtight storage. You want to make sure the environment itself isn’t too moist or dry either. The ideal humidity range for storing cannabis is between 59% to 63%.
The last step in safe storage is making sure you keep your cannabis in a place secure from children and pets. As with any medication, it’s important to safeguard against a child or animal accidentally ingesting your marijuana. This is especially crucial with edibles like infused candies, cookies or other treats that can easily be mistaken for regular food. Always label your cannabis so it’s clear to anyone who can read that it’s medication, and keep it in an area that’s locked and secure.
Understanding safe storage practices is the key to ensuring your cannabis stays as safe and potent as when you first purchased it. It can also keep others safe from accidentally taking a medicine that isn’t meant for them.
Photo credit: Dank Depot
In the next edition of the Cannabis for Newbies guide, we’ll cover how to safely carry your cannabis while traveling. Need a medical marijuana recommendation? Consult with one HelloMD’s knowledgeable doctors; it's easy, private and 100% online.