What Happens to Marijuana After Five Years of Storage?

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We’ve all had one of those moments where you’re cleaning out the couch cushions or rummaging through the junk drawer and all of a sudden, you stumble across a glorious sight — old weed you had lost or forgotten about. But typically, the color has faded away and the bud has lost its bling, which causes you to second-guess throwing it in your piece. Luckily, Marijuana.com is here to settle your worries.

As you may already know, Weedmaps TV’s Gil (one of the media pioneers of this industry) has been conducting strain reviews since 2010. We were able to track down some of his “stunt weed” ganja — sweet, succulent, sun-grown cannabis that was harvested in the fall of 2012 and has been sitting in a jar on the WMtv set ever since. While the cannabis had bright spotlights shone on it for the last five years, the seal of the mason jar had never been opened…

I’m Old Weed

1 min 00 sec video

So, of course, we decided to send this rare five-year-old cannabis sample to Cannalysis testing lab.

aged cannabis potency

It’s time to really answer the question, once and for all, what happens to marijuana after years of less-than-ideal storage?

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The Science: Old weed is notoriously known for acting as a potent sleep medicine. When THC is exposed to oxygen, it transforms into CBN — an unbelievably healing cannabinoid that helps relax and put the body to sleep. In this case, the buds were stored in a mason glass jar so exposure to oxygen was minimal. The high amount of THC that still remained in the bud made it obvious that there was very little degradation of THC to CBN. However, there was still a higher presence of CBN than average, 0.6% CBN to be exact. The slight dose of CBN still induced a relaxing and sedative effect, melting away all the tension and stress of the day.

Appearance: Not surprisingly, the buds have lost their once-spectacular glimmer. Their original lime green hue has gradually become a bit duller, fading toward a more khaki green. The trichomes, however, are still very much intact and their perfect amber heads continue to glow.

Consistency: The once super-glue sticky buds have transitioned into a slightly crunchier version of their original selves. This specimen was jarred before we were all enlightened to the glory of humidity packs, but even still, the sealed jar kept these buds in surprisingly nice condition. While the buds were more than a bit drier than what most smokers enjoy, when viewed up close you can see the trichomes are still melty and sticky, ready to be inhaled.

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Scent: Now this is the kicker, almost any canna-expert will tell you the first thing to degrade are the terpenes (essential oils) of cannabis. However, we were pleasantly surprised at the presence of terpenes even after five years!

cannabis terpenes

Still, breaking the seal of the mason jar for the first time in a half-decade was a rather foul experience. The stale air had a strong fermented plant matter smell that tingles the nostrils. The odd odor reminded me of a spice cabinet in an old moist home or a mixture of exotic dried herbs found in traditional Chinese medicine. Once the lid was off and the stale air had been flushed, the faint aroma of cannabis terpenes dominated the jar.

Cracking open a bud exuded a more pleasant floral citrus scent with an earthiness, kombucha-esque aroma that lingers in your nostrils. Lab tests showed that 0.67% of terpenes remained intact with limonene leading the way at 1.66mg per gram. These buds were also high in linalool and myrcene. The presence of myrcene means that even those these buds are old, they still have the power to break through the blood-brain barrier and produce an excellent high.

Taste: While the look of old buds is not quite as show-stopping as a freshly cured bud, the taste of these 5-year-old flowers was rather “interesting.” The flavor was quite dry and earthy, hitting the back of my throat rather immediately. While not completely unpleasant, it wasn’t the most enjoyable toke of my life. Mild citrus notes still rang through, even if they weren’t quite at their former sweet pine and fresh blooming flower glory.

The Verdict: Smoke that herb! While it may not exude the beauty it did in its prime, old weed is still good weed. And who knows, you might enjoy the new body-melting couch lock it provides.


To read more about the CBN cannabinoid, check out this article:

CBN: The Sleepy Cannabinoid in Old Weed

About Author

Allie is a NW-based content curator for Marijuana.com and an organic farmer at TKO Reserve. She has been a professional in the marijuana industry since she was 18 years old, spending the first five years of her career working for Dope Magazine as lead photographer. Allie has worked on mainstream projects such as Idiot's Guide: Growing Marijuana, Branding Bud: The Consumerization of Cannabis and her own self-published book, As The Grass Grows.

15 Comments

  1. If you have weed and you are trying to save it from spoiling do fast or u want to bring it back , make it stronger. Use terpenes, they help thc cross the blood brain barrier. Take it from Mr Terpenes of Kleanterpenes

    Lawrence Williams
    http://Www.kleanterpenes.com
    Mr. Terpenes
    CTU (Cannabis Training University)Graduate
    CCNA
    Certified Master Grower

  2. Most canna experts I talk to knows for a fact age and cured cannabis make for way better taste…
    Lectin also is a vehicle that helps thc crosses the blood brain barrier. Dont buy this guys super expensive terps. Make your own capsuls yourself save your money to treat yourself. Make capsuls and consume it. Look up Bad kats canna caps.

  3. I always vacuum seal and try to remove as much of the air as I possibly can, maybe it’s not the best way but it works for me, I try to use as quickly as I can, I’ll hold on to it using that method for a few months then re up.

  4. I accidentally left some buds in a shake box (in this case, a cardboard bankers box with a loose lid and holes in the ends for handles) for over a year, and when I found it the weed was dry and ugly. All I could think to help it was water curing, so I put it in a jar of water for about 36 hours (as I remember, could have been longer). Once I had it aired out and smokeable, it turned out to be better tasting and just as potent as the batch it came from originally. I was a happy camper.

    • Been told by supposed experts that it doesn’t work. Glad to hear different. Will definitely try if the need occurs .

  5. I thought you were gonna answer the question. i don’t think that you did. When i find pot in the “couch cushions” or a suit pocket, it is more likely a joint or a “corner shot”. it’s not hermetically sealed in a mason jar. idk about the previous guy who washed his weed. i would figure it would just wash all the good stuff off. So how bout that 4 yr. old joint from the wedding that you attended?

    • I found a two year old joint once in the back car seat when we took it out. Nasty! Yep! We fired that bad boy right up too. It burned way too fast and ran on one side, but did get the two of us buzzed for a hour or so. Wasn’t the best of weed to begin with ether as in the 80’s in Fort Myers, Florida never got real good weed unless it was in tiny itty bitty little ziplock baggies with barely enough to roll one decent joint. You never lose that kind of joint I’m telling you now. 99% of lost ones I’d say were low grade weed even or you would’ve found that badass and tore apart the house to find it. If word got out to your buddies you lost a J in the house. You’d have every one of them at your door helping to look too. One say’s “I’ll check the attic” I ain’t got no attic, but you go ahead, we’ll follow. LOL I had to put that out there ya’ll. ture though.

    • @JASO
      If it’s dried properly it doesn’t get moldy. One time I found an old zip-lock baggie with what used to be still wet bud, but after being forgotten about for at least a year, it turned back into dirt.

  6. Runt Thornton Sr. on

    I agree with this editorial. I’ve Bennett growing for over 35 yrs. And I have found forgotten weed as well. And even though it lost its luster and shine it was still as potent as it was when I misplaced it. I grow sativa strains. And wow I was impressed as to how potent it was. I still got a mild energetic buzz.

  7. I’ve been smoking cigars for over 25yrs and weed even longer. They both grow and thrive in the same environment. The longer I’ve kept my cigars in a humidor (70*/70%) the better they become. They do age like vino. So I decided to try the same with pot. I put my weed in a sandwich baggie and leave the top open. It becomes smoother with age and the potency remains the same. Of course, the product of 10-15yrs ago isn’t as strong as today’s’; however, since it’s a different strain and you haven’t gotten used to it, you get off with no problems.

  8. Had 4 Northern lights that I put in flower. 14 days later 1 showed her flowers, 2 showed their balls but the other after 30 days now still looks like it’s in veg. Should I risk keeping it with the lady or move or destroy. Also does anyone know a good use for males?

  9. I have kept homegrown (east coast outdoor grown) bud in a jar in the back of the frigerator. I notice that he became disillusioned hold some of their moister deep in the buds, though the outer portion is dry enough to crunch. The smoke in a glass water pipe is mellow and easily brings the world to a screeching halt within 20 minutes. I think the cold storage has a positive effect on the duration of the active elements in the bud.

  10. Jenny Naughton on

    I remember finding some hash i’d lost in the mid 80’s, had put it in a jacket pocket i rarely used and hung that up in the wardrobe.

    I know the hash was pretty mediocre red seal, from Broadwater Farm in London, it was ok but not great but finding the hash some 6 years later had made it a lot more potent and a joint had me on the floor and i know it was never that good when i was buying it regularly from the farm. 🙂

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