Does Hemp Flower Expire? Hemp Shelf-Life and Jar Life

by Sugar Team September 04, 2022 7 min read

Does Hemp Flower Expire? Hemp Shelf-Life and Jar Life

We've all been there. You stock up excessively on hemp, excited about the new products you've discovered – but a few months later most of it has gone bad. Whether you've got an unopened jar of pre-rolled hemp cigarettes or an ounce of CBD-rich flower that's been sitting in your stash box for a while, you might be wondering: does hemp expire?

The answer isn't straight-forward, but it relies on factors like the type of hemp product, how it was stored, and the environment in which it was kept. Let's explore the shelf-life of hemp flower so that you know how long your jar will last; we'll throw in some tips for extending the life of your hemp, too.

Does hemp flower expire?

If you've never come across hemp flower before, it is essentially the dried and cured buds of the hemp plant. This type of product is rich in cannabinoids like CBD, as well as terpenes and other natural compounds that give hemp its unique smell and flavor profile.

Hemp flower can be consumed in a number of ways, including smoking, vaporizing, and even using it to infuse your own oils or edibles. It's a popular choice for those seeking the potential benefits of CBD without having to take it in oil form, and it's also relatively discreet – unlike, say, CBD gummies or CBD-rich topicals.

But how long does hemp flower last? And does it have a shelf-life?

The short answer is that, yes, hemp flower does have a shelf-life. You'll find an expiry date on your hemp packaging, and once that date hits, the product inside is no longer considered fresh. For example: we maintain a strict shelf-life of two years at our store, and none of our stock is ever older than that.

hemp flower in container

However, it's important to note that the expiry date on hemp flower packaging is not necessarily an indication of when the product inside will go bad. In fact, many people find that their hemp flower lasts much longer than they expect – it really depends on how you store it.

What happens when hemp flower expires?

First off, it's important to note that expired hemp is very unlikely to cause you harm. Of course, it will lose many of its benefits and it won't taste as good or smell as fresh – but it's not going to make you sick.

When hemp flower expires, the cannabinoids and other natural compounds inside begin to degrade. This means that the potency of the product will decrease over time, and eventually it will no longer offer any benefits. The taste and smell of the product will also change as it begins to degrade, so if you're a fan of smoking hemp flower, you'll notice that expired bud doesn't taste as good.

How to tell if hemp flower has expired

If you're not sure whether your hemp flower has expired, there are a few tell-tale signs to look out for:

  • The color of the bud will change from bright green to brown or yellow.

  • The smell of the hemp will become weaker and less pungent.

  • The taste of the hemp will be different, and it may be harsh or unpleasant to smoke.

If you notice any of these changes in your hemp flower, it's best to discard it and buy fresh product. Again, it likely won't make you ill – but it's not going to offer the same benefits as fresh, potent hemp flower.

 tweezers and hemp

The chemistry of hemp flower expiration

As we touched on earlier, hemp flower expires because the natural compounds inside begin to degrade over time. This is a process that happens with all organic matter, and it's caused by exposure to oxygen, light, and heat.

When these elements come into contact with hemp flower, they cause a chemical reaction that breaks down the cannabinoids and other beneficial compounds. This is why it's so important to store your hemp in an airtight container – if there's oxygen present, it will speed up the expiration process.

The light exposure factor

You may have noticed that some brands of hemp flower come in dark, opaque containers. This is because light exposure is one of the main factors that cause hemp to degrade and expire. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight are particularly damaging, so it's important to keep your hemp flower out of direct sunlight if you want it to last.

The temperature factor

Another factor that contributes to the expiration of hemp flower is temperature. Extreme heat or cold can damage the fragile compounds inside, so it's important to store your product in a cool, dry place. A fridge under 70 degrees Fahrenheit is a good option if you're going to be storing your hemp for more than a few days.

The humidity factor

Finally, humidity can also cause hemp flower to degrade and expire prematurely. Too much moisture in the air will cause the cannabinoids and other compounds to break down, so it's important to store your hemp in a dry place. If you live in a humid climate, it's a good idea to keep your hemp in the fridge or freezer to prevent this from happening.

Maximum shelf life of hemp flower

Sadly, even the most airtight containers can’t keep your hemp flower fresh forever. There's a process of natural degradation that happens over time, no matter how you store your weed. So, what is the maximum shelf life of hemp flower?

hemp nug in jar

The rule of thumb is that unopened, properly stored CBD flower will last for up to two years. After that, the cannabinoid content will start to degrade, and the flower will lose its potency and flavor. Once opened, your hemp flower will only stay fresh for a few weeks before it starts to go bad.

Since you'll never be able to know with certainty how long your particular CBD flower will last, it's always best to err on the side of caution and consume it within the shorter end of the maximum jar life spectrum. Always keep an eye on how your flower looks, smells, and tastes as it approaches the one-year mark to gauge its freshness.

Benefits lost when hemp flower expires

You may be wondering – what exactly have I got to lose by failing to store my CBD flower properly or by consuming it after it's gone bad? Let's go through some of the benefits you'll potentially lose out on.

Therapeutic cannabinoids

CBD and other therapeutic cannabinoids are the main reason people use hemp flower in the first place. These molecules interact with our endocannabinoid system to provide a wide range of potential health benefits, including pain relief, anti-inflammation, anxiety reduction, and more.

When CBD flower expires, the cannabinoid content begins to degrade. This means that you'll no longer be able to experience the full range of potential therapeutic benefits that fresh CBD flower has to offer.

Flavor and aroma

CBD flower is known for its unique flavor and aroma, which is created by a variety of terpenes. These molecules are responsible for the characteristic taste and smell of different cannabis strains. When CBD flower expires, the terpene content also begins to degrade, resulting in a loss of flavor and aroma.

While flavor and aroma aren't the main reason people use CBD flower, they can still be an important part of the experience – so if you're a fan of certain strains for their taste and smell, you'll want to make sure you consume them before they start to lose these qualities.

Potency

In addition to therapeutic cannabinoids and flavorful terpenes, CBD flower contains a variety of other compounds that contribute to its effects. These include fatty acids, proteins, flavonoids, and more. When CBD flower expires, the potency of these compounds also begins to degrade.

What does this mean for you? If you consume expired CBD flower, you may not feel the same effects that you would from fresh flower. The loss of potency can also make it difficult to gauge your ideal dosage, which could lead to an ineffective or even unpleasant experience.

hemp flower in open jar on desk

How to store hemp flower

Now that we know that hemp flower does have a shelf-life, it's important to understand how to store it correctly in order to extend its lifespan. The key is to keep your hemp in an airtight container, out of direct sunlight, and in a cool, dry place.

Ideally, you should store your hemp flower in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. This will protect it from the elements and keep the air out, which will help to preserve the cannabinoids and other compounds inside. If you're going to be storing your hemp for more than a few days, it's also a good idea to put it in the fridge or freezer – this will further extend its shelf-life.

When it comes to hemp flower, fresh is always best. However, if you need to store your product for a short period of time, make sure to do it correctly in order to preserve its potency and freshness.

Where to find fresh hemp products

If you're looking for fresh, potent hemp flower, the best place to buy it is online from a reputable retailer (like us!)

Wherever you source your hemp flower from, make sure to check the expiration date before you buy it. And remember, fresh is always best – so don't buy from a retailer unless they go the extra mile with their packaging and storage methods.

What to do with expired hemp flower

If you have hemp flower that has expired, there's no need to throw it away! Even though the cannabinoids and other beneficial compounds have degraded, the plant matter itself may still be safe for other uses.

One option is to use it as compost for your garden. The plant matter will break down over time and provide nutrients for your plants. You can also use expired hemp flower for an eco-friendly confetti alternative at your next party. 

Note that old hemp should never be used if it's developed mold – this can be harmful to your health. If you're not sure whether your hemp is still good to use, it's always better to err on the side of caution and throw it away.

Have you consumed expired hemp?

If you've accidentally consumed expired hemp flower, don't worry – in most cases, the worst you'll experience is some mild gastrointestinal upset. However, if you start to feel more serious symptoms like severe abdominal pain or vomiting, it's important to seek medical attention immediately.

three jars of hemp

Wrap up

We hope you've learned something from this article about hemp flower and its expiration date. The bottom line is that storage can greatly affect the shelf-life of your product. So, if you want your hemp to last, make sure to store it in a cool, airtight place out of direct sunlight.

And remember – if it looks a bit off, it probably is. Always better to buy fresh so that you're reaping all the benefits that hemp has to offer!

 



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