Can Your Edibles Expire? How Long do Weed, CBD & THC Gummies Last?
Photo by Elsa Olofsson
Edibles offer a great delivery system for medical marijuana, especially for beginners. After all, smoking weed can be intimidating, but edibles offer all the beneficial cannabinoids without harsh smoke or requiring accessories. Before you invest in edibles you may wonder, do edibles expire? How is THC affected by time and can edibles lose their potency?
This article will briefly cover tips to help your edibles retain their potency, identifying expired edibles, and what would happen if you take the risk and try those expired gummies in the back of your fridge.
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Do Edibles Expire?
One glaring issue that can get missed given the price tag and excitement over cannabis-infused edibles is they’re still food. They are still governed by the same limitations of bacteria growth, mold, and spoilage as their non-cannabis counterparts. Cookies go stale, oil can go rancid, and food will spoil.
Edibles require the same preservatives as processed foods to ensure a long shelf life, after all, they still subscribe to the same rules of food safety. While cannabis has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, that doesn’t do much to change the other ingredients or their shelf life.
Luckily, marijuana legalization means regulation so more pot-based products have sell-by, best by, and expiration dates. Like at the grocery store, these can give you guidelines for when a product might start to taste off vs. when it can potentially make you sick.
Edibles need fats like oil and butter to better deliver cannabinoids to your body. However, some fats can last longer while perishables made with dairy, or eggs will eventually go bad. Edibles that are exposed to water can develop mold.
When in doubt about the expiration date of an edible, defer to the non-cannabis version or natural shelf life of the ingredients.
If you’re planning to stock up on edibles it’s also important to know edibles can lose their potency. THC can degrade over time, while cannabinoids do not magically become toxic, they can lose some of their psychoactive properties which is why you bought those magic brownies or weed gummies in the first place.
Do THC Gummies Expire?
THC gummies and many cannabis-infused hard candies have an indefinite shelf life. Gummies are made with sugar, gelatin, and water. Even gummies made with beeswax have the potential to last for a long time as beeswax doesn’t often officially “expire.”
Individually wrapped candies are also likely to last longer since they’re not exposed to water or germs which can increase mold and bacterial growth.
Gummies don’t generally go bad but they still have the risk of mold. Keep an eye out for any discoloration, if they get very grainy or dry, and of course, if you see mold.
How Long Do Edible Gummies Take To Expire?
As a candy made from water, sugar, and gelatin, gummy candies can have a fairly long shelf-life. Gummy recipes can vary and this can affect their individual expiration dates.
Standard gummy candies can last from about 6 months to a year or even much longer. Cannabis products are often stored in an airtight container so if stored in a cool dark place, your edible gummies can potentially last much longer.
Unopened packages of gummies will potentially last longer than ones you have opened because when you open them, you expose them to oxygen and bacteria. Remember, opening packages and touching unused candy with your hand will expose them to various microbes that can speed up their spoilage.
Photo by Margo Amala
How Long Do Edible Cookies Last?
Edible cookies are made with milk and eggs which means they are much more likely to spoil. Fresh baked cookies only last about three days before they can start growing mold or make you sick.
Preservatives can extend this time, and edibles are likely to have some. It’s best to default to the best by date on the package of your cannabis cookies to avoid food poisoning.
Do Edibles Lose Potency After A Year?
Besides expiring, edibles can lose potency over time as THC degrades. A year is about the time it takes for THC to degrade enough to lose its effects but it can occasionally degrade even more quickly. Cannabinoids can have a shelf-life of 2 years if stored properly. However, THC has quite a few enemies that can speed up its degradation.
THC’s worst enemy is oxygen which increases its chances of becoming cannabinol (CBN). When THC becomes CBN, it becomes less psychoactive but CBN can still offer a subtle high of euphoric or relaxed feelings.
Heat and light also increase the speed your edibles lose their potency. Store edibles in a cool, dark, dry space. Whenever possible, try leaving them in their original packaging and don’t open the package unless you plan to consume the contents within the next 3-6 months.
Can You Freeze Edibles?
If you want to preserve your THC edibles, you can try freezing them to retain their potency and stave off spoiling. Freezing edibles will stop them from being exposed to heat, light, and oxygen.
Unlike with cannabis flower, freezing will not affect the potency of the cannabinoids because they have bonded to the oil or fat. Other ingredients are likely to degrade before the cannabinoids start to. The only issue with freezing edibles may be the taste.
After all, if you invested the money in purchasing delicious edibles you may not want to ruin their flavor or texture.
Definitely consider freezing cookies and other baked edibles as their porous texture increases their chances of oxygen exposure and they have a shorter shelf-life than other edibles.
However, with beverages, candies, and more unique edibles, use your best judgment for how freezing them might affect how they might taste.
Can You Eat Expired Edibles?
There’s nothing stopping you from eating expired edibles. Cannabinoids don’t become toxic and you will not die. However, you do run the risk of illness and the larger question is will they even get you high.
It’s best to give sugar-based edibles the smell test. After all, candy can have a long shelf life and only by flavor or smell can you detect potential mold or pathogens.
Depending on how long you’ve had the edible, you run the risk of eating something that might make you sick and run the potential of only enjoying the subtle relaxing high of CBN. Food safety is the biggest issue with regards to edible expiration so it’s best to use your best judgment and definitely discard any edibles that smell or taste off.
What Happens If You Eat Expired Gummy Edibles?
Eating expired gummies is not the worst thing in the world. Given their long shelf-life you may just lose some texture or flavor quality. There’s also the potential that the THC has degraded and you will have a weaker high, a relaxing experience, or no high at all.
There is the potential for exposure to mold, fungi, or bacteria so just keep that in mind but you would know your chances at first bite.
Edibles are growing in popularity. Despite being infused with cannabinoids they are still food and you should still treat them accordingly to avoid food poisoning. Check for dates on the packaging and keep in mind the date you buy them.
While THC doesn’t expire it can degrade so it may not even be worth the risk or stockpiling edibles that may lose their efficacy.
Before you invest in edibles, be sure to apply online for a medical marijuana card today to take advantage of your right to medical marijuana.
This article has been reviewed by Dr. Anand Dugar, an anesthesiologist, pain medicine physician and the founder of Green Health Docs. Graduating from medical school in 2004 and residency in 2008, Dr. Dugar has been a licensed physician for almost 20 years and has been leading the push for medical cannabis nationwide.