All medical cannabis products are susceptible to degradation from exposure to heat, light, air, and moisture. Taking the proper precautions to properly store your medicine will help to preserve potency and flavor over time.
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Storing Medical Cannabis
Cannabinoids and terpenes are the medicines of the cannabis plant. They are found in the tiny microscopic trichome heads of the cannabis flowers. These heads are extremely fragile and prone to breaking down. Just brushing up against trichomes can cause them to rupture. When trichomes rupture, terpenes evaporate cannabinoids break down. Improperly storing medical cannabis is one of the most common reasons for degradation and break down of these important compounds.
General Storage Tips & Things to Know
Store cannabis at temperatures below 77°F. Lower temps will prevent THC-A from decarboxylating and prevent the development of mold and other contaminants.
Never leave cannabis - including cannabis flower - in a hot car or other warm space. This includes your glove box and trunk. These unfavorably conditions can cause the medicines to evaporate off and break down quickly.
Keep all cannabis in a dark place, such as a cabinet, storage case, or safe. Exposure to UV light is one of the most influential factors in the breakdown of cannabis medicines. There are a variety of storage cases available that are both light and smell proof.
With the exception of certain tinctures and edibles noted below, DO NOT store your cannabis in the refrigerator or freezer. The temperature extremes and fluctuations from opening/closing can harm your medicine.
Avoid using plastic containers for storing flower over the long term. Plastic often carries a static charge that can damage delicate trichomes. Also be wary of soft and non-chemical resistant plastic as terpenes like limonene can breakdown the plastic and contaminate medicine.
Don’t use a tobacco humidor. The rich wood oils can transfer to your cannabis and taint the flavor. The moisture levels can also promote mold growth.
To avoid contamination, wash previously used containers thoroughly before reusing for another cannabis product. Wipe with isopropyl alcohol to remove sticky resin and then rinse with soap and water.
Storing Cannabis Flower
Store in a glass jar with a quality air tight seal. Keep in a dark place and/or use UV protective/dark tinted glass. While it varies, a 4oz jar will hold approximately 3.5 grams of cannabis flower.
Be mindful to minimize exposure to air by making sure the container is not too large for the amount of cannabis being stored.
Do not violently shake stored cannabis. Dried trichome heads are fragile and can break easily.
Myths regarding rehydrating cannabis are just that - myths. You cannot add back terpenes that have evaporated off by reintroducing moisture via fruit peels or bread. Instead, you risk introducing contaminants like mold.
Boveda moisture packs can help maintain proper humidity for cannabis storage (thought to be between 59% and 63%). Proper humidity allows for proper color, consistency, aroma, and flavor. Be mindful to not let the pack and cannabis touch.
Storing Cannabis Tincture
A true cannabis tincture is made with a simple extraction using an ethanol or glycerin base. These alcohol and glycerin tinctures are best kept refrigerated.
Cannabinoids can precipitate out of the tincture onto the sides of your container, so shake them vigorously before using.
Storing Cannabis Edibles
Mark all homemade edibles with the date they were made and clearly label their cannabinoid content.
Follow normal storage and expiration dates for the food in question. Cannabis infusion will not extend the shelf-life.
Many cannabis edibles, especially baked goods, can be frozen and thawed for later use.
Storing Cannabis Concentrates
Storing cannabis concentrates can be a little more complicated, especially with the wide array of cannabis concentrates forms available. The best container will largely be determined by the extracts consistency, but are typically made of silicone or glass. Regardless of your choice of container, keep all cannabis concentrates, including vape pens, away from heat to avoid oxidization and breakdown.
Consistency is everything when choosing a storage vessel for concentrates. Do not store concentrates like shatter in glass, as the small pieces will stick and become impossible to remove without a nectar collector or similar device.
Dark glass jars are best for storing crumble, diamonds, sauce, budder, and other concentrates with a thick consistency.
Parchment paper is great for storing shatter or home pressed rosin, but keep the parchment wrapped concentrate in an airtight container for best protection from heat, light, and moisture.
Silicone “dab” containers are one of the most common storage containers for concentrates as removing any consistency concentrate from them is simple. However, they should only be used to store small amounts of medicine meant for immediate use. The seal is rarely air-tight, which can lead to premature breakdown and evaporation.
There are mixed reports on storing cannabis concentrates in the freezer or refrigerator, but from my conversations with cannabis scientists and personal experience using concentrates I think it’s best to avoid it - the temperature fluctuations between freezing and use can cause breakdown.