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Can Marijuana Go Bad? Understanding the Shelf Life of Medical Marijuana

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

When you go to a pharmacy for a prescription or over-the-counter drug, you will notice that it has an expiration date. With many patients in Arkansas now using medical marijuana products, people need to know whether or not marijuana can expire.

Medical Marijuana Becomes Less Potent Over Time

For those who are using dried flower, or “bud,” the traditional smokable form of marijuana, marijuana doesn’t exactly expire. Unlike food, there is not a date where your medical marijuana will be dangerous to consume.

Instead, marijuana’s potency and effects can change over time.

Much of the therapeutic potential of medical marijuana is thanks to a class of compounds called cannabinoids. These include THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound that is credited for marijuana’s “high,” and CBD (cannabidiol), another common cannabinoid that doesn’t result in the same sort of psychoactive effects.

Over time, these compounds will degrade. What this means is that the therapeutic potential will decrease the longer you keep the cannabis.

Medical marijuana contains other compounds that contribute to its efficacy known as terpenes. Terpenes are the class of compounds responsible for the unique aroma of different strains of cannabis. They too can have beneficial effects for human health.

Terpenes are particularly volatile, meaning that they degrade rapidly. When marijuana flower is exposed to air, terpenes slowly escape into the atmosphere.

Of course, other medical cannabis products can go bad in the same way that food does. Edibles are food products infused with cannabis extracts; gummies are the most popular THC edible in Arkansas. Just as with any other type of food, it is important to pay attention to the use by date.

As for concentrates like those found in vape pens or cartridges, tinctures, wax, and shatter, it is recommended that you use them within one year or purchase.

Storage Is Important

When it comes to medical marijuana flower, there are good and bad ways to store it. Exposure to things like heat, air, light, and moisture can cause the potency to decrease.

Terpenes are particularly sensitive to heat and air exposure. This is why you may have noticed that cannabis loses its distinct aroma if left out in the open for long.

Moisture exposure is more worrisome than that of heat and air. This is because wet cannabis can end up with mold, resulting in a product that is dangerous for your health.


Store cannabis flower in an airtight container

Keep cannabis in a cool, but not cold, location

Protect your cannabis from light exposure

Use edibles by their use-by date


Store cannabis in the fridge or freezer

Leave cannabis outside of a storage container

Store cannabis in a hot location

You can always use the plastic containers that you are given at the dispensary, but an airtight glass jar is your best option. The less air, the better. Store this in your medicine cabinet or cupboard for optimal freshness and longevity.


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Arkansas Marijuana Card Doctors

If you are an Arkansan suffering from one of these 18 medical conditions you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both THC and CBD products.

Click here to learn more about what Arkansas Marijuana Card's state-certified medical marijuana doctors can do for you, or give us a call at (844-249-8714) and our friendly support team can walk you through the entire process, and set you up with an appointment.

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