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How to Tell if Your Stash of Weed Has Gone Bad

Avoid the conundrum by just storing it well in the first place.

Let’s say you chance upon a stash of weed you forgot about some time back. Happy day! But … is it even good? You don’t even remember stowing it away, let alone when you bought it. Can you still smoke it?

Can Weed Go Bad?

The good news is, weed doesn’t really “go bad;” its chemical makeup just changes. Marijuana is a plant, just like the veggies and herbs in your kitchen. Cells break down, molecules oxidize. Just as the dried oregano in your spice rack becomes less flavorful over time, weed becomes less potent. Old weed won’t kill you, but it also won’t get you all that high.

How to Store Weed

The best way to avoid this question in the first place is to store your weed properly. Glass or ceramic containers are your best bet. You want to make sure the container is airtight, and won’t transfer smells or flavors onto your precious weed. Store your pot in a dark, cool refuge that’s not your refrigerator or freezer — too cold environments can suck the sweet, sweet moisture out of those leaves.

Fresh weed is full of the cannabinoids CBD, CBC, and THC, but sit your weed down for a bit in ultraviolet light (i.e., sunlight), and your THC will break down into CBN, a cannabinoid that is way less potent and much more disappointing. Basically: Keep your weed in a still, dark, cool environment, and you’re guaranteed the best flavor.

But let’s say you didn’t get around to storing your weed like you should have, and now you’re stuck with a Ziploc bag of mystery marijuana that may or may not be good.

Appearance

If your recently discovered stash doesn’t look much like weed anymore, just some dried out powdery leaves, it’s probably not going to be all that enjoyable to smoke. If you spot a fuzzy white powder growing on it, your weed is moldy and you definitely shouldn’t smoke it, unless you want to risk heart and lung problems. Mold spores, like moist places without a lot of airflow, which can happen if you store your weed where it’s too moist.

Sound

When you pull apart your re-discovered weed in your hands, you should hear snaps, not crackles, which can mean your weed is too dry. If your weed is silent, it has a lot of moisture, and you should be on the lookout for mold.

Smell

If your old stash smells musty, or like urine or a locker room, mold is probably the culprit. Chemical or plastic scents are a result of poor storage or pesticide contamination. Old weed might not smell as strong as the day you stuck it somewhere and forgot about it, but it shouldn’t have any off smells. Weed should smell like weed.

Taste

If it looks like your old stash is free of mold, and you decide to light some up, you’ll know pretty quickly if it’s really gone bad just by the taste. It should still taste like weed, without off flavors.

Smoking poor quality weed won’t hurt you (with the exception of mold) — it just won’t be quite as enjoyable as the fresh stuff. You probably won’t get as high thanks to a lower THC content, but that’s about it. Enjoy your re-discovered stash!

Avoid the conundrum by just storing it well in the first place.

PSA: Check Your Cannabis for Mold

Spotting mold on bread or cheese is pretty easy, but on cannabis? Not so much.

Here’s everything you need to know about what to look for, whether it’s safe to smoke moldy cannabis, and how to keep your stash mold-free going forward.

Moldy cannabis usually has a grayish-white coating. If you’re not a seasoned consumer or grower, though, it can be easy to mistake trichomes for mold and vice versa.

Trichomes are those sticky, shiny crystals on the leaves and buds that give cannabis its aroma.

Unlike trichomes, which look like little hairs that almost appear to glitter, mold has a gray or white powdery appearance.

Mold also has a distinct odor to it, so your nose may notice the mold before your eyes do. Moldy weed usually has a musty or mildewy smell, or it may smell kind of like hay.

It probably won’t kill you, but it’s still not recommended.

In healthy people, smoking moldy weed isn’t likely to have a detrimental impact on your health — barring the general risks of smoking, of course.

If you smoke moldy weed, you might experience symptoms like coughing, nausea, and vomiting, which are more unpleasant than dangerous.

But if you’re allergic to mold, you could end up with inflammation of your sinuses or lungs and symptoms like:

  • sinus pain
  • drainage
  • congestion
  • wheezing

In people with weakened immune systems or lung conditions, inhaling smoke from weed that contains certain mold species can have serious health consequences.

Fungi like Aspergillus, Mucor, and Cryptococcus can cause serious and even deadly infections in the lungs, central nervous system (CNS), and the brain in people with compromised immune systems.

A UC Davis study found these and other types of potentially harmful fungi on cannabis samples bought from dispensaries and growers in Northern California.

You may be tempted to cut off the obviously moldy bits and smoke the rest, but it’s not a good idea. Life’s too short for bad bud.

If you can see mold or mildew, you’re better off tossing it. It’s not going to taste or smell good anyway, and could make you feel sick.

Storage is everything when it comes to preventing mold.

Exposing cannabis to the wrong temperature, light, humidity, and oxygen can promote the growth of mold.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind.

Avoid the fridge or freezer

Forget what you’ve been told about storing your green in the fridge or freezer. The temperatures are too low, and the exposure to moisture can result in mold.

The ideal temperature to store cannabis is just below 77°F (25°C).

Use the right container

Glass jars with an airtight seal are the way to go if you want to keep things mold-free.

Mason jars and similar glass containers help limit the exposure to oxygen and moisture, which can prevent mold and keep your nugs fresh longer.

If you want something a little more sophisticated than a Mason jar, most dispensaries sell containers designed for this exact purpose.

Keep it in a dark, dry place

Direct sunlight and moisture are recipes for disaster when it comes to keeping cannabis fresh.

The sun’s rays can heat things up and hold in moisture. A damp environment can also cause too much moisture to build up if your container isn’t properly sealed.

Keep your container in a dark, dry cabinet or closet that doesn’t get too hot.

Mind the humidity

Cannabis is best kept at a relative humidity of 59 to 63 percent. Go any higher and you run the risk of trapping moisture and growing mold.

Adding a humidity pack to your container can help. These are little packets that contain a mix of salts and water that help regulate the humidity in your container. They’re inexpensive and last a couple of months.

Humidors made specifically for cannabis are another option if you want to get fancy and are willing to spend some extra bucks.

Like most green things, cannabis can develop mold under the right conditions. Learn what to look for and whether there's any way to salvage your bud.