Storing cannabis is easy if you follow these rules

Published: December 19, 2019

Cannabis stored in Mason jars Photo by pancakenap420/Shutterstock

The best way of storing cannabis is surprisingly cottagey.

A nick, a dime, and a key: whether referring to weight or price, the slang for various cannabis quantities was always measured inside a plastic bag—a nick equals $5 worth, a dime is $10, and a key is a kilo. But while ziplocks and sandwich bags may be convenient for selling cannabis, plastic is no way to store good quality marijuana.

According to Brittany Smith, a bud tender at Queen of Bud, a Calgary cannabis shop, there are six commandments for better storing.

1. Safety first
However and wherever you’re storing cannabis, your first priority is to make sure it is out of reach of kids and pets. Smith suggests that you put it in the same place as prescription drugs and other medication.

2. Jar it like jam
The problem with the ubiquitous plastic bag is that it does a poor job of actually locking in smell and, long term, can shed chemicals into the cannabis, imparting unwanted flavours, says Smith. Instead, transfer your cannabis into a glass jar. The easiest option is a Mason jar—yup, the ones you use for making jams and preserves. The same seal that keeps pickles crisp helps lock in smell and keep out air, which can hurt the flavour and quality of the cannabis over time.

3. Size matters
Pick a jar size that matches the amount of cannabis you need to store. Use too large a jar and the extra air will make the cannabis stale over time. But don’t pack the buds in too tightly either. Too little air flow can raise humidity, which can lead to mould growth.

4. Cool, not cold
Like the size of the container, you want Goldilocks storage temperature. Too warm and the cannabis can dry out prematurely, which impacts the essential oils and leads to harsh smoke. Meanwhile, freezing cannabis ruins the trichomes, the little crystals on the bud that impart a lot of the flavour. Temperature swings can mess with humidity, potentially leading to mould and mildew growth. Just right, says Smith, is a location that sits between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius with little variation. Do not put cannabis in a tobacco humidor, such as the ones often used to store cigars. They are usually made with wood that has oils that can interfere with cannabis flavours.

5. Dark beats light
Just like sunlight can degrade just about anything else left exposed to UV rays, so too can too much light break down cannabis. Store it in a dark space.

6. Separate containers
If you have more than one strain of cannabis, don’t mix them in the same jar, even if they look completely different. Accidentally smoking uplifting sativa right before bedtime will suck. Plus, the different strains have different oils and crystals that could rub off on each other, changing their taste and properties.

New regulations for edible cannabis products

Follow those rules for storing cannabis and you’ll find it easy to keep cannabis safe and fresh for up to a year, Smith says. Much past that, and it will start to get dry and dusty. It will probably still get you high, but will have a harsher smoke and not a lot of flavour.

And it’s important to note that all this advice is for cannabis flowers or buds, not edibles, concentrates, or tinctures. In general these products are more perishable. Unless otherwise noted, store them in a cool, dark place, in a sealed container. But use them sooner. Quality products should list a best before date on the package.

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