Canned Cannabis has arrived!
Most marijuana-savvy consumers know that fresh, potent, high-grade marijuana found in your local medical or recreational dispensary is wonderfully pungent and sticky – packed with natural and medically powerful cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. But did you know that unlike other perishable commodities, marijuana actually loses weight and potency while it sits on the shelf?
Before your medical cannabis arrives at the dispensary, it must be properly dried and cured. Curing is a prolonged and controlled drying process, necessary for marijuana to achieve maximum potency, fragrance and flavor. To properly cure freshly cut marijuana, it must spend 5 to 15 days in total darkness within specially controlled and well ventilated drying rooms. The temperature in these drying rooms is maintained between 60-70ºF, with the humidity levels kept between 45-55% relative humidity (RH). In this way, marijuana dries while inhibiting the growth of mold and bacteria.
During the curing process, phytochemicals such as THCA form through the biosynthesis of non-psychoactive cannabinoids. In addition to the formation of bio-active cannabinoids, the drying and curing process facilitates the decomposition of chlorophyll and the breakdown of leftover sugars and minerals. Without this decomposition and breakdown, your marijuana would be overly harsh, medically weak and very unpleasant to smoke or vape.
Essentially a dried flower, unprocessed, raw marijuana leaf is rich in medically potent cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. Unfortunately, each of these substances degrades with time and exposure to oxygen and sunlight. This happens so quickly, that dispensary owners must factor it into their inventory – the loss in marijuana herb weight as it sits and dries out on their shelves. In practice, most dispensaries consider marijuana to have a maximum of 2 months shelf life, until it must be heavily discounted or pulled from the shelf and sent to the landfill.
Is this canned bud for you?
Some medical and recreational dispensaries are trying something new with their cannabis packaging. Instead of storing and selling medical marijuana in jars, tins or plastic bags – dispensaries are going back to the basics and choosing to can their medical marijuana just like you would food.
When cannabis is canned, an inert nitrogen gas is pumped into the can to remove most of the oxygen before it is sealed. Removing the oxygen prevents bacteria from growing within the bud. It also reduces further oxidation of the plant material.
By canning cannabis in this way, it may be possible to extend the 2 month shelf life to as long as 2+ years! The extended shelf life saves the retailer money and encourages dispensaries to offer a much larger diversity of product – potentially including more strains of high-CBD and low-THC cannabis.
One dispensary that has made the switch to canning marijuana is the Mercy Wellness Marijuana dispensary in Cotati, CA – North Bay SF. Mercy Dispensary Director Levin said, “The difference in the amount of product we have went from 30 varieties to over 100.” Even with the increased cost of canning (from 11 cents/bag, to $1/can), Director Levin says the move has been worth every penny.
Levin predicts that canning may become standard packaging for California. Many argue that it is more environmentally friendly, since cans are recyclable while plastic bags are not. Canning marijuana also keeps aged marijuana from being disposed of in landfills.
How to store marijuana at home
The best way to store your medical marijuana is in airtight mason jars kept in a secure dark location, such as a child-proof cupboard, drawer or safe. If you want to go the extra mile to ensure long-term potency and flavor, maintain the humidity inside the sealed jar at 55-62% with a food-safe humidity pack such as Boveda packs.
Boveda packs are safe, simple and specifically designed to maintain medical marijuana. Offered in two RH levels for herbal medicine, 58% and 62% – choosing is a matter of personal preference, since either RH will work equally well to keep your cannabis fresh and potent for months.
What to avoid
Don’t store you marijuana in the freezer. It will severely degrade the quality, as the cold causes medically rich trichomes to dry out, become brittle and break off the flower.
Also, once home – be sure to remove your bud from any retail plastic packaging. Plastic generates static, so with every motion of the bag – tiny trichomes will be knocked off your bug, rendering it less medically potent.
Avoid using left-over desiccant packs from other products – those perhaps not intended for food preservation between the crucial RH levels of 58-62%.