How Do Cannabis Edibles Lose Potency?

by Haley Mills · January 13, 2023

Cannabis edibles are a popular way to consume marijuana, but how do they lose potency over time?

do edibles lose potency - close up of hand hold edibles

There are many cannabis edible options available online and in dispensaries, and you can even easily make your own.

  • But how long do they last?
  • Can edibles become dangerous to ingest?
  • Does THC degrade over time?
  • How do you store edibles to get the most out of their potency?

In this article, you’ll learn all of this and more!

Marijuana Edible Ingredients

It first comes down to the basic ingredients and materials used in the edibles. Some food products are more perishable and have a shorter shelf life than others. Freshly baked cookies will only last a short time compared to a more shelf-stable product like hard candy that can last months. An edible’s shelf life depends on the type, how you made it, and the preservatives added for it to stay fresh.

Some newer cannabis-infused cookies and brownies were created to be shelf-stable for longer. These edibles will have a longer shelf life than an infused baked good you make at home. While some weed edible products might not go bad, they can get stale and might not be as tasty or potent. Use your senses if you’re questioning whether or not an edible is okay for consumption. If the color, flavor, texture, or smell seems off, throw it out.

How do “best before” dates work? 

Cannabis edible products from legal dispensaries come with a best-before or expiration date. With products that contain perishable ingredients like butter or dairy, you’ll want to pay close attention to the expiration dates provided by the manufacturer. If the best-before date has passed with shelf-stable products like gummies or chocolate, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to toss them out.

Do homemade edibles expire like regular food?

Sugar is a powerful preservative, but texture, color, and flavor can become less appealing over time. The best-by date is not referring to edible potency but rather the shelf life of the ingredients used. Something like a gummy or a bar of chocolate will get stale over time, similar to food products purchased at the store. However, they may still be able to provide effects depending on the state of the cannabinoids and terpenes.

Types of Edibles & How Long they Last

Cannabis plants naturally dry and become less potent and flavorful over time, so storing edibles properly in an airtight container is essential to keep the edibles fresh just like with other food. You can use marijuana butter immediately to make baked goods and many recipes. Infused butter and cannabis oil have a shelf life of up to six months in the refrigerator and up to a year in the freezer when adequately stored in airtight plastic containers or sealed glass containers. 

Here are some of the most common types of edibles you’ll find online and at your local dispensaries:

  • Beverages
  • Baked Goods
  • Gummy Edibles
  • Hard Candy 
  • Savory Snacks 

Most edibles issued from licensed dispensaries will have an expiration date, but you can follow this rule of thumb for two popular types of edibles:

  • edible gummies and candies- will start to lose potency after 3 months; can be stored in the freezer for 6 months
  • baked brownies and cookies- 2 weeks in a sealed container; 6 months in the freezer

Do edibles lose potency over time?

Yes. Most edibles have a fairly short shelf life because they contain food ingredients. It’s important to follow accurate guidelines about storing edibles. In optimal conditions, adequately stored cannabinoids can last six months to a year. The general rule of thumb to consume cannabis while it still has its flavor and potency is to use it within six months.

Some studies show that weed loses its strength after approximately one year: 

  • 16 percent THC lost in one year
  •  26 percent THC loss in two years
  •  34 percent THC loss in three years
  •  41 percent THC loss at four years

How can I tell my edibles are bad?

As with all food products, there are indicators that your edibles have gone bad. Those indicators may include the following: 

  • Color loss
  • Condensation inside packaging
  • Mold Buildup
  • Change in smell
  • Dryness, brittleness, or roughness

Are expired edibles safe to eat? 

It’s ideal for giving sugar-based edibles a smell test. Candy can have a long shelf life, but you can typically detect mold or pathogens by flavor and smell. You may risk getting sick if there are perishable ingredients involved.

You could wait too long and experience the subtle relaxing high of CBN after the THC degrades. Food safety is the biggest issue concerning edible expiration, so it’s best to use your best judgment and discard any questionable edibles.

Can you Freeze weed products?

Freezing THC edibles can retain potency and prevent spoiling if you want to preserve them. Freezing edibles will stop them from being exposed to heat, light, and oxygen. The main issue with freezing edibles may be the deterioration of taste.

While there are ways to freeze dry your buds, freezing them after being thoroughly dried and cured is more than likely a recipe for disaster. If you decide frozen marijuana is the way to go, vacuum sealing and glass containers will be your best friends. However, the weed will likely not be as potent and will not bounce back to its original form.

In saying this, you can freeze other forms of cannabis concentrate like wax, shatter, and tinctures, and they will do much better since it has gone through decarboxylation. Either way, you should never keep any marijuana products stored in the freezer for longer than six months.

Tips for Dosing Edibles

It’s vital to know how much THC is in your edibles. You can not measure the same dose for edible potency as you would a tincture or cannabis flower. An edible high can take longer to onset, but it can also be more intense.

We suggest starting with the lowest recommended dose on the package and then moving up as you feel comfortable or as needed depending on your reason for using. Remember not to take edibles on an empty stomach as that can intensify the effects or promote feelings of nausea.

Storage Tips for Edibles

There are multiple ways to store marijuana edibles for a long shelf life; however, it greatly depends on the type of edible you will be placing in proper storage.

For brownies, it’s best to store cannabis-infused edibles with wax paper in airtight silicone containers. If you plan to freeze edibles, cover them in plastic wrap and place them in sealed, zip-up plastic bags for best results. These will maintain their full potency for about two months when stored properly and can successfully be stored for up to six months.

With medical cannabis tinctures, it’s best to keep them in glass jars at room temperature in a dark place. Storing like this will keep it fresh for a few months. While you can freeze tincture in airtight containers, it doesn’t maintain the oil’s integrity and doesn’t have the same shelf life as other types of edibles.

When storing medical marijuana gummies, they typically last up to a year without being frozen, but the potency will decrease over time. If you are going to keep weed gummies, wrap them up and place them in an airtight container before deep freezing them for the best results.

Do I need a Medical Card?

In recreational states, a medical marijuana card is not required to purchase and possess edibles. However, some states will require a person to register before obtaining cannabis edibles. Leafy Doc can help you get a medical card in specific locations.

Click here for more information, and check out the simple steps below.

Book an Appointment

Skip unnecessary trips to the doctor’s office and complete your appointment from the comfort of your home. You’ll need to provide prior medical history and book your appointment.

Meet with a Doctor

Connect with the correct state-certified physician and easily talk to your provider on mobile phones or tablets. The provider will evaluate your condition and address any questions or concerns. Then, they will provide recommendations for approved medical marijuana patients.

Get your Medical Card

Your health coach will be available to address any questions and support your upgraded lifestyle. You’ll be able to keep continuous communication through every step to getting your medical cannabis card from your state.

Last Updated: January 30, 2024

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