Long ago, when you bought bud from a black market dealer, the exchange went a little something like this:
You met behind a convenience store or the local pizza joint. You handed them cash, and they gave you a small bag of weed. The dealer wrapped it in tinfoil, plastic wrap, or maybe it came in one of those tiny dime bags with smiley faces printed on it. You took your purchase and jammed it into your pocket for safekeeping.
After a quick smoke session, the baggy sat on your coffee table for days if not weeks. Maybe it got lost in the couch cushions, or maybe you threw it into the freezer for safekeeping. Worse yet, you often kept the ground of crumbs in your grinder for ease of access.
Times have changed!
Cannabis has long since moved out of these back alleys and into the mainstream. People care about the strain, they care about flavor profile, and most importantly they care about quality. Long term storage in a ziplock bag is not suitable for the nugs you are getting from a dispensary. Did it matter when nobody even knew for sure what you were smoking? Probably not. But these days, people care about weed in the same way they care about wine.
If you are still relying on these outdated weed storage techniques, leftover from your years in colleges, its time to step your game up! The storage mistakes of your past are destroying the cannabinoids, and terpenes of your delicious buds. So, what storage mistakes are we talking about?
1. The Ziplock Bag Technique
Whatever you do, ditch the plastic bag. Think about wine; the rich high-end varieties come in a glass bottle. The cheaper options come in a bag. There is a logic for this. There are a few reasons you’ll want to get your weed out of a plastic container sooner rather than later.
Plastic bags, although they seem airtight, are slightly porous. Over time as the bag degrades, it allows air to pass through. Most plastic bags are low-grade plastics, which means it may also leach toxins into your flower. This will eventually reduce the natural terpene flavors, and give it a chemical aroma. Plastic bags also develop static cling, which pulls all those valuable cannabinoids and terpenes off of the trichomes. You spent your top dollar on a crystallized bud, so why let all that value go to waste.
A ziplock bag does not protect your flower from light, temperature, or handling. As we’ll see, these are all other ways you can mistakenly store your product.
Alternative: Use a mason jar with an airtight lid. Glass does not collect the crystals, it keeps the oxygen out, and it doesn’t express toxins.
2. It’s a Matter of Size (Turns out it Does Matter)
You’ve only got a little bit left from your giant stash, but you still throw it back into a huge container. This is also a mistake! Oxygen exposure slowly breaks down the potency and terp profile of cannabis. It’s why dispensaries store their shipments in vacuum-sealed bags for safekeeping.
The longer you keep the leftover bits of weed in an unsuitably sized container, the increased cannabinoid degradation it’ll experience. Over time, your 30 percent THC, is going to feel like a 5 or 10 percent variety.
Alternative: Use small jars or specialized weed storage containers to store a few grams. If you stash more, keep it in quart jars. Choose a container that reduces oxygen exposure.
3. The Freezer Experiment
I’m sure we have all heard the idea that keeping your cannabis in the freezer maintains freshness. After all, the freezer is the perfect place for leftovers, frozen fresh vegetables, and ice cream! But for marijuana – it might just be the worst thing you can do to preserve your bud.
When stored in the refrigerator or freezer, your bud is at risk of developing mold. A scientific phenomenon happens in a freezer, where the moisture moves from within a substance to outside a substance. On food, it looks like freezer burn. In cannabis, it destroys integrity. As the moisture moves outside the plant material, it makes the product more susceptible to mold. This is especially true when stored in a fridge.
Alternative: If freshness is a concern, invest in a cannabis humidor. These boxes keep the moisture content perfect, the temperature controlled, and avoid the issues of cannabis freezer burn and mold altogether.
4. Dirty Bong Buddies
Way back when there was probably a time when you stashed everything in one small box. The lighter, the grinder, the pipe, and the weed. As soon as you opened the kit, all you smelled was old resin and burnt residue.
Keeping your fresh flower in the same container as your burnt flower ruins any delicious flavor. The disgusting smells from the dirty bong, pipe, or roach seeps into everything. The hard work of the grower and the dispensary to preserve the flavors is entirely lost.
Nobody likes smoking old roaches. Sure you do it if you have too, but why would you want to inhale something that tastes so bad? Keeping your fresh cannabis in a container alongside the spent product ensures that everything tastes like old roaches in the end.
Alternative: Keep your roaches, pipes, and bongs separate, and clean them frequently. Only keep weed in your weed jar.
5. The Manhandler
One of the biggest issues with the little dime bags that used to be so pervasive in cannabis culture is the lack of protection it offers the product. Dime bags are shoved into purses, pockets, and back corners. The nugs inside get flattened, squished and squeezed. At the end of a long day in your back pocket, a fluffy crystallized nug is nothing more than a small, sad pinch of hard crumble.
Over-handling of cannabis speeds up the trichome loss. A fresh flower is covered in beautiful and potent crystals of resin. The crystallized resin is a significant aspect of the experience. It’s very sensitive to handling, and if not protected easily falls off.
To preserve the integrity of the flower, don’t handle the product too much. If at all possible keep it in your storage jar until you want to smoke it. Only then bring it out for grinding. Do not put a little in a pocket-sized container for traveling. You’ll end up smoking something which looks less like cannabis and more like compost.
Alternative: Touch weed only as needed. Keep in an airtight storage container – glass is preferred.
6. Big and Bright Spaces
Even the glass jars we’ve mentioned as alternative storage containers above, aren’t that great if you keep them in the sunlight. Cannabis is like a vampire; it doesn’t do well exposed to bright sunlight. Or any light at all.
Do you know what happens over time to your drapes and living room furniture? The sunlight streaming through your windows starts to fade the fabrics. Your vibrant red curtains slowly turn into a sad shade of pink. Now, think of the same process to your weed.
If you keep cannabis in a clear glass jar, but in a bright area of the house, it doesn’t protect the bud from UV rays. Over time, the rays destroy the compounds, the THC, CBD, and terpenes among others.
Alternative: Source dark brown or micron glass containers, or store your clear glass jars in a dark closet or drawer.
Although the techniques for storing weed have changed since your high school days, it isn’t overly complicated. Keep cannabis in a sealed airtight container, avoid plastics, and don’t expose it to light. When it’s time to smoke, only take what you need, and don’t handle the rest. These simple techniques and an appropriate container will maintain the integrity of the nug for many sessions to come.