Dried cannabis flower is one of the most frequently prescribed medical cannabis products in Australia. But we often hear from patients that they are unsure how to store it once it arrives on their doorstep.
Light, humidity and air can all affect the quality of the product, which is why your prescription comes so carefully packaged. But after you’ve opened the package, what's the best way to preserve the valuable medicinal qualities?
With so many ill-conceived rumours floating around about orange peels and bread crusts for rehydrating weed, we thought we’d detail how to properly and safely store medical cannabis for long-term therapeutic value.
An Explainer on the Drying and Curing Process
To explain how to store cannabis, we must start at the beginning, when the flower is harvested.
First, the plants are harvested. The buds (or flowers) contain the cannabinoids and terpenes responsible for cannabis’ medicinal properties, and harvesting happens when these compounds have reached peak potency. Flowers are cut and carefully handled as they are moved to the drying and trimming spaces.
Drying and Trimming Cannabis
The plants are then dried, hanging upside down in a dark room. The room temperature is kept at 15 to 20°C and 55 to 65% humidity. It takes from two to seven days for cannabis plants to dry.
Once the plants are dried, the leaves, branches, and stems are trimmed away, leaving the all-important flowers behind. In wet trimming, the process is reversed; the plants are trimmed first and then dried flat on a drying rack.
During the curing process, flowers continue drying slowly from the inside out. This process not only improves the quality and flavour of the flower but also reduces the risk of mould. Curing essentially locks in the cannabinoid and terpene profile, ensuring the flower that leaves the facility has the same qualities as the flower that arrives to fill your prescription.
Properly dried and cured cannabis is suitable for long-term storage, provided it stays sealed under the right conditions (ex: dark, cool, and in an airtight container). Once curing has been completed, the flower is tested for potency and profile. Quality testing also ensures it is free from mould, bacteria, or other pathogens.
How Not To Store Your Medical Cannabis Prescription
The cannabis that arrives to fill your prescription was harvested at peak potency and processed in a manner that captured that cannabinoid profile for long-term therapeutic value.
But once you open the package, it’s crucial to understand how to store cannabis correctly. Despite what you may read online, safe storage of cannabis flower doesn’t involve orange peels or other food products.
When in Doubt, Keep it in Official Containers
In Australia, patients are legally required to keep cannabis prescriptions in their original packaging. The packaging and associated label help establish that you've gone through the official channels to access this product — i.e. packaging helps prove it's not from the black market.
What's more, most packaging is designed to prolong the product's life. Sealed, light-blocking containers ensure your prescription stays fresh for longer. Although you may be tempted to remove the flower and place it in a plastic baggy for easy access, this quickly degrades therapeutic effects.
Official packaging is also child-proof. Like other prescriptions, this is a critical safety feature to ensure that smaller hands won't access your prescription when you aren't looking.
Keep Cannabis Out of the Fridge and Freezer
Unlike many medicines and foods, cannabis isn’t meant for the refrigerator. It doesn’t need to be stored at such cold temperatures, and the temperature inside a fridge fluctuates significantly, which can lead to cannabis breaking down more quickly.
The freezer is another no-go. When the water inside the cannabis flower freezes, it breaks apart the delicate buds, ruins the quality and taste of the cannabis, and could affect its medical properties.
Don’t Try To Rehydrate Cannabis with Food
“You can rehydrate dried cannabis by storing it with a piece of bread.” We hear this tip a lot, but take it from us; it’s not a good one.
Adding foodstuffs to your cannabis is actually a quick way to increase the risk of mould and mildew. Plus, the other food will alter the flavour of your cannabis, which is probably not what you hoped for. Keep cannabis to itself.
Proper Storage Tips for Medical Cannabis Flower
Now that you know what not to do, here’s how to store cannabis properly:
You should store medical cannabis in an airtight container to preserve the quality and flavour of the buds. Glass is the best option for storage, but with Australian medical cannabis, the TGA requires you to store it in the original container with the attached script. One solution is to put your medical container inside a glass container.
Choose a dry place to store your cannabis where the humidity won’t fluctuate too much. A kitchen cupboard works well, but not directly above the stove or dishwasher. Avoid damp basements, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and anywhere else with high humidity.
Suppose you’re worried about your cannabis getting too dry. In that case, you can buy humidity packs designed especially to rehydrate weed, which you store alongside your flower to regulate the moisture content of the container.
Sunlight degrades cannabis quickly, so keep all medical cannabis out of direct sunlight. Opaque packaging works well, but it’s still worth storing your cannabis in a dark cupboard or container to avoid breakdown by UV light.
Finally, keep your cannabis cool. Delicate dried buds don’t do well in the heat. And terpenes can begin to break down at surprisingly low temperatures. Keep cannabis away from heaters, fires, and ovens, and stick to cool spots with consistent temperatures. Avoid letting your cannabis freeze, too, as we explained above.
How To Store Cannabis: Think Cool, Dark, Dry
Proper storage of your medical cannabis prescription is essential for maximising its therapeutic potential.
Whether you keep it in its original packaging or move it into a new container, keeping it in a cool, dry, and dark environment is recommended to preserve its effectiveness. Just keep the original packaging and label handy (especially if travelling), as this is required under Australian law.