Can You Freeze Cannabis?

Can You Freeze Cannabis?

For cannabis connoisseurs who want to get the most out of their products for as long as possible, proper storage is of the utmost importance. The delicate cannabinoid-rich trichomes that frost the outside of cannabis flowers can be finicky and fragile. Without proper care, these trichomes can degrade or fall off, drastically reducing the potency and flavor of your bud. 

There are several tips and tricks that can extend the shelf life of cannabis, but what about freezing? It works for meat and produce. Is the secret to fresher marijuana hiding in your freezer?

Can Weed Go Bad? 

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about your marijuana spoiling for the most part. Cannabis ages like the dried herbs and spices in your kitchen cabinet—it doesn’t go bad necessarily, but it can lose potency over time. Cannabis that’s been exposed to air, light, and heat will become brittle and crumble to the touch. Much of the therapeutic compounds present in the plant will have degraded, and the taste will be off and harsh on the throat. 

However, cannabis stored in humid or moist environments potentially could become mold stricken. If you find mold growing on your flower, don’t try to salvage it by cutting off the moldy pieces. The entire nug has already been affected, and smoking it could result in serious health problems. Better to be on the safe side and just toss it out. 

Can You Freeze Weed? 

The freezer may look like an appealing place to store your cannabis, but it isn’t usually the best choice.

Cannabinoids and terpenes degrade over time. One study from the University of Mississippi investigated the rate of cannabinoid degradation in cannabis stored at room temperature for four years. After just one year, their buds had lost nearly 17% THC. After four years, that number was closer to 40%.

Freezing cannabis would certainly slow down this degradation process; however, freezing comes with its own disadvantages. The freezing process causes trichomes to become extremely brittle. If you aren’t careful handling your frozen flower, then those trichomes could break off, causing faster degradation than if you’d just left the cannabis at room temperature. There’s also a moisture issue. The formation of ice crystals can lead to excess moisture, which can leave weed susceptible to mold growth during the thawing process. 

For most people, it makes more sense to store cannabis in an airtight container away from sunlight and heat than to freeze it. If you’re having trouble keeping your cannabis fresh, try buying smaller amounts at a time, or using a smaller container for storage. Always make sure to store your flower in a dark room. UV light can drastically speed up the degradation process. Stoners who are serious about keeping their bud fresh for longer may consider investing in a cannabis humidor, similar to the ones made for cigars. 

Flash Freezing Cannabis

There is one context where freezing cannabis is actually essential—the production of an extract known as live resin

A new trend in cannabis cultivation has farmers skipping the traditional drying and curing process in favor of dry ice buckets and industrial freezers. Conventional curing techniques cause serious terpene degradation. As the plants dry and moisture is released, the trichomes become more fragile and break away from the rest of the biomass. By skipping this process entirely, cultivators and extractors can create a product with a more robust terpene profile. 

When cannabis is flash frozen, it’s harvested, trimmed, then immediately subjected to extremely cold temperatures. Next, the frozen buds go through a BHO extraction process which transforms the flower into a potent extract called live resin. What makes live resin different from your average bottle of BHO hash oil is the terpene content. Because the plants were originally flash frozen, live resin has a much more flavorful taste than other extracts or concentrates.