Health Canada requires that all legal cannabis product labels include the necessary information for making an informed decision before using cannabis.
If you look at your last order, you’ll see this includes mention of an expiry date, although it is often presented as “no expiry date has been determined.”
So what does this really mean, then? While it’s not a likely problem for frequent consumers, those who dose less often may find their dried flowers have expired. Or have they?
Does Cannabis Actually Expire?
The short answer is yes, cannabis products expire. The long answer is, as always, a little more complex.
You see, there are many factors that influence the lifespan of dried cannabis flowers; one of the most significant being how it is stored.
Proper storage comes down to a few things including container quality and light exposure. Glass containers preserve your flowers longer than plastic or paper-based products, and they come with secure lids. Keep these containers in a dark closet, drawer, pantry, or top cupboard cabinet to reduce light exposure which can speed the degradation of THC and terpenes.
Don’t store your products in the fridge or freezer, despite what you may have heard. Instead of preserving freshness, you compromise quality. According to High Times, “the temperature and humidity of various refrigerators fluctuate which isn’t ideal for preserving the quality of your weed.” Storing your cannabis in the freezer isn’t any better, either; it actually increases the likelihood of terpene and cannabinoid-rich trichomes breaking off from your buds. Neither is ideal.
When properly stored and secured, cannabis flowers can last up to a year or, in other expert opinions, up to ten years. With such a wide range, some industry experts suggest thinking about dried cannabis expiry dates more like “best before dates.”
Determining the “Best Before Date” of Cannabis Products
You’ll know the quality is beginning to degrade when the product loses its smell, signaling the fade of terpenes like limonene and myrcene.
While loss of smell is an indication of compromised quality, the same holds true if your dried cannabis takes on a new scent. If your cannabis smells musty or like mildew, “it may be a red flag for mold presence,” explains Leafly. To ensure quality and safety, always inspect your dried cannabis before consuming.
Dried flowers aren’t the only cannabis products that can expire, though. Cannabis oils can go rancid with time and are additionally compromised by improper storing. With these products, it can be more challenging to determine freshness, so always do a double-take of your expiry date before consuming. If you’re unsure, err on the side of caution.