Updated on January 20, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Time needed: 15 minutes.
How many times have you seen an expiration date on cannabis? Sure, products like edibles may have them. They are a food source and have ingredients that can spoil over time. But what about that canister or sealed bag of flower you just bought at the dispensary? Does it go bad too? The answer is yes, but cannabis doesn’t expire the way that food and beverage products do.
Cannabinoids Can Lose Potency When Exposed to Air
Old cannabis that has not been stored in an airtight container isn’t going to make you sick if you smoke it. It may taste unpleasant. And the overall psychoactive effects you get from the THC, terpenes, and flavonoids may be underwhelming at best. If you don’t go through your whole flower quickly, consider upgrading to an airtight container or stash box to keep your bud fresh and potent.
Not All Plastic Containers Are Safe to Store Your Weed
The plastic container the dispensary sent you home with? You know, that little container that you can squeeze and the lid pops open? That may or may not be made from a harmful type of plastic. Ask your dispensary if the plastic containers are BPA free. And if they are not, consider bringing your glass container to transport your cannabis.
Choose a Tamper and Child Proof Container
If you live in a home with children, make sure you are taking extra steps to secure your cannabis in a stash box. Kids are curious. Even if you don’t consume your medical cannabis in front of your children, chances are they know you have it. And use it medicinally. Ensure you are smart about where you store it and the container you choose to prevent minors from accessing it.
Cannabis degenerates over time the way that tobacco products do. Have you ever found an old pack of cigarettes and decided to light one up if you are a smoker? It was probably over dry and tasted gross. Stale without much flavor at all. And you are unlikely to get ahead rush either because nicotine potency dissipates over time as well.
Another good example is the dried herbs that you use for cooking. When they are fresh, they are full of flavor and nutrients. If they sit in your kitchen cupboard for a long time, though, and you use them, they could taste more like woodchips. Nutritionally, the herbs wouldn’t be worth much either. Natural terpenes degrade over time.
Some patients consume smaller quantities of whole flower. Medical cardholders may have more than one type of cannabis product that they use medicinally. They may prefer tinctures or edibles more often. Let’s be honest; if you consume your whole flower quickly, storing your weed will not be a concern for you. It is unlikely to go stale before you smoke it. But knowing how to store your bud properly can help you get more medicinal value from your cannabis.
1. Storing Cannabis in a Zip Lock Bag Instead of a Stash Box
When you visit your medical dispensary and purchase your strain, you may get it in a container. But more often, dispensaries package sold cannabis in a paper envelope with a ziplock at the top. When you get home, do you put that envelop away or transfer it to another container?
If you notice in your medical dispensary, cannabis is stored in air-tight containers. They can be medical grade acrylic containers or glass. Sometimes, dispensaries store the stock in large mason jars with labels on them. You will not see cannabis left out in the air (even in a display case). Dispensaries want to make sure they are preserving the freshness and potency.
No zip-lock bag is completely airtight. And what is escaping outside of your baggie is the good stuff, like flavonoids that make your cannabis smell and taste good. Terpenes, which can provide many wellness benefits, also leech out of a poorly sealed container.
We asked a few people who have their medical cards about transferring their weed to another container at home. Surprisingly, many said that they just kept it in whatever container the dispensary provided it in. And a few people who have a lot of experience smoking weed said that they immediately transfer their cannabis, which is exactly what you should do.
2. Are Mason Jars a Good Way to Preserve and Store Cannabis?
Back in the old days, when more people grew and preserved their foods, mason jars were worth their weight in gold. You could put any fruit or vegetable into them, vacuum seal it, and the food would stay well-preserved for months—even a few years. Think of your grandmother’s homemade jam. Yum.
Mason jars are an effective way to store your cannabis. If it works for the dispensary, it will work at home. Remember to keep your cannabis in a room temperature environment with some form of humidity controller. You’ll want something in the 50-55% humidity range. Glass containers can quickly conduct heat. Don’t put your glass storage jar near heat sources. You don’t want it decarboxylating without you.
3. Plastic Containers That Are Not BPA Free
Not only do mason jars provide a good airtight seal for your cannabis, but glass-containers are also healthier to store cannabis in. When you shop online for plastic containers, you can find some cool ones. But how many of them are made from BPA safe plastic? For the record, that is the bad kind of plastic that health experts warn us about.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical used to produce many kinds of commercial plastics. Plastics are created from resins, which are extracted from oil. And some chemicals in BPA plastics can cause health problems. Some are also carcinogenic (cancer-causing).
Do you know how some people like to reuse a water bottle? Over and over again? That’s dangerous to your health if it is not medical-grade plastic. And even then, some chemicals can be absorbed from the plastic into whatever you are eating, drinking, or smoking.
What Kind of Plastic Container Did Your Dispensary Give You?
The most economical commercial plastics available are not BPA free. They are super cheap. The majority of dispensaries may use this kind of plastic for packaging your buds in, for the ride home. Not all dispensaries, however. Some are very conscious about healthier plastics, including containers that can be recycled. But the dispensary assumes two things when it comes to the container they provide for your cannabis:
That you will probably smoke through your purchase within a week or two (depending on how much you buy); this can vary, though. Some people can smoke ¼ ounces of cannabis a week. Some people purchase two ounces or their maximum, and it can last them for several months.
That you will be transferring it to a better-quality container when you get home, they know that is the right way to store cannabis. But they don’t always explain that to new patients—particularly people who may not smoke that often.
Your local medical dispensary may sell BPA free plastic storage containers for your weed. But ask them to show you on the label that the plastic container is BPA free. Over time, BPA plastics degrade and can leech harmful chemicals into your weed.
Most people don’t microwave their food in plastic containers anymore or store food for this reason. Don’t be fooled because BPA plastic containers are recyclable. They will have a code 3, 7, or the letters PC on the bottom.
4. Choose a Tamper and Child Proof Stash Box
If you are a parent or live in a home with children, you will want to make sure all your medical cannabis products are locked down, first from young children. They can be curious, and edibles are incredibly tempting to a child who thinks they just found a stash of delicious gummi bears. We haven’t visited any medical dispensaries that provided edibles or cannabis in tamper-proof containers. So it is your responsibility to find a safe way to store it.
We don’t like to think of our teens as tempted to take our medical cannabis. But we know better as parents. Not only do we want to keep medical cannabis use discreet and away from our teens as much as possible, but we also want to restrict access.
No matter how ‘good’ you think your child is, knowing that you have a medical card means the possibility that they could find some cannabis and use it. Most likely with their friends. Everyone wants to visit the house when they know Mom, Dad, or grandparents use medical cannabis. You have a responsibility to keep your stash safe from minors.
Where Do I Buy High-Quality Storage Containers for Medical Marijuana?
Now that you know the criteria for buying a good quality container (and what to watch out for), the next step is to find one that works for you. Other factors for consideration are your style and how you use medical cannabis. Would you like everything in one box stored safely? All types of medical cannabis and paraphernalia? Or just a plain and straightforward storage container?
Accessorizing your accessories is a personal thing. You either want something that makes you smile when you pull it out of the closet or cupboard, or you aren’t fussy about what it looks like. If your dispensary didn’t have any containers you liked, here are some ideas to consider.
All-In-One Locking Stash Box and Kits
It has been a long day, and you are ready to relax after work. Smoking cannabis is no less enjoyable for a patient than it is for a recreational user. There is a ritual to it for some people that enhances the experience for them.
There are all-on-one storage and rolling tray designs that span from plain-Mary Jane to pure creative art. It just depends on your preference. Here are some examples of the all-in-one accessories we found on Amazon.
(Please note that these brands are not affiliated with MarijuanaDoctors.com, and this is not a sponsored post).
If you love a good Pelican case kind of indestructible stash box, you will probably love the Fess Products designs. This all-in-one locking stash box is water-resistant, crushproof, dustproof, and it locks up tight. It also includes a grinder, stash jar, and a matching rolling tray. It also has a bonus smell proof bag (convenient for the ride home from the dispensary) and a natural hemp cone package (with hemp wicks).
Some lockable stash boxes are flamboyant. This is great if you want to draw attention to where you store your cannabis. Maybe not such a great idea. Discretion is always good. Swag Gear has some stash boxes that look nothing like a stash box among some of their more creative designs. You could put one of these in your home office or on a shelf, and no one would even know. In metal and wood finishes with a combination lock.
This company has some pretty artful and creative locking stash boxes. And some of them are so incognito; you won’t even have to put your stash in the closet. This one from Hakuna Supply is made to look like a hardcover book. Inside this stash, box kit comes a 1/8-ounce glass jar with a freshness seal bamboo lid. It also contains a Hakuna 4-piece sharp shredder and two keys to your stash box.
Herb Guard Store
This manufacturer has a lot of styles to suit just about everyone. These locking stash boxes look more like a tablet cover or a soft (but cool looking) lunch box. The cases are smell-proof, and some come with storage and grinder jars (up to 2-ounce capacity) for someone who wants to keep their medical cannabis with them. The Herb Guard Store stash jars are also made from UV proof glass. That helps to moderate the temperature and protect the humidity of your herb.
Some medical dispensaries have an amazing selection of storage containers. But if you want a broader choice, consider visiting an adult-use or recreational dispensary. They may have more options and more artistic options if you want a locking stash box with a bit of creative flavor. And, of course, there is always Amazon.