How to Store Edibles and Maximize Shelf Life

Published on August 13, 2021 by Kristina Willis


Consuming edibles is a convenient way to take advantage of the benefits of cannabis without risking the harmful side effects of smoking. In North America, 40% of nonmedical cannabis users use edibles, and 47% of young adults who use marijuana consume it in edible form.

Proper storage is essential for keeping edibles fresh, potent, and safe. How long edibles last typically depends on the type of food that has been infused. For instance, candies last longer than dairy or baked goods. When storing edibles, the most important environmental conditions to keep in mind are light, moisture, and exposure.

Here is everything you need to know about how to store edibles optimally so you can enjoy a tasty cannabis treat whenever you feel like it!

Can Edibles Go Bad?

Edibles are created by infusing food products with cannabis. They come in many forms, including baked goods, soft and hard candies, and even beverages. Like most foods, edibles have a shelf life and will go bad if not consumed before their expiration date. Usually, the food’s regular expiration date represents how long the item will last, with or without the addition of cannabis.

The shelf life of food products is substantially influenced by the creation process and use of preservatives. Though recent studies have found that certain antimicrobial qualities in CBD oil may work as a natural preservative, research is still in its infancy, and cannabis products should not be considered any less perishable. Improper preparation or storage practices can lead to microbial contamination and infections.

The general rule of thumb is to purchase or produce only what you can reasonably enjoy. Consume refrigerated items within a week and frozen products within six months.

THC Degradation and Potency

Though edibles can be safely stored for quite some time, you may want to consider their freshness. According to industry experts, THC’s potency tends to degrade slowly over time and should not be a concern. Food products typically go bad before potency ever becomes an issue.

However, certain factors can influence the degradation rate of THC. For instance, adding glycerin to a food product may cause it to degrade faster. THC is derived from THCA, a non-psychoactive acid precursor. THC can also further degrade into CBN, which is even less psychoactive.

A cannabis product’s freshness can be determined by the ratio of THCA and THC. Therefore, how the THC is derived and then infused into a product can be a determining factor for how long an edible is potent, as well as the degree of euphoria it produces.

How to Store Edibles Safely

Optimal Storage Conditions

The best spot to store edibles is in a place that is typical for the infused food product. Keep in mind that their shelf life can be impacted by the environment you keep them in, particularly in regards to light, moisture, and air.

Not only does oxygen encourage bacterial growth, but it is also a significant contributor to THC degradation. Exposure to air and light can reduce THC concentrations. Temperature can be another factor, though not as influential as light or oxygen. Dairy and other perishables should be kept in a refrigerator while baked goods can temporarily survive room temperature.

Storing items in a refrigerator can extend the shelf life of most CBD-infused products, including gummies and other soft candies. Hard candies and other less perishable foods do not require refrigeration but should be kept somewhere dark and dry (like a pantry).

As a rule of thumb, store edibles in an airtight container in a place that is dark, dry, and appropriate for the food type. When in doubt, do not hesitate to store them in the fridge or freezer.

Clear and Accurate Labeling

Controlling cannabis intake can be more challenging with edibles compared to typical smoking methods. It takes substantially longer to feel any intoxicating effects, sometimes even up to two hours after consumption. People who mistakenly assume they have not eaten enough can accidentally overdose if they do not track the amount of cannabis contained within a food product.

Knowing precisely how much THC and CBD an edible contains is essential to make sure that you only consume safe amounts. A typical intoxicating dose of edibles contains 10–30 mg of THC, but some edibles contain amounts far greater.

Despite the importance of clear labeling, many companies fail to report such information. Only purchase cannabis products that openly provide exact serving information. When making your own edibles, make sure you take note of the date you made them and how much cannabis they are infused with.

If you remove store-bought items from their original packaging, do not forget to clearly label the new container with both the product’s expiration date and cannabis concentration levels.

Child Safety and Awareness

While edibles may be safe for adult consumption, they must be kept out of the hands of children. The adolescent brain is particularly susceptible to addiction, and misuse among teenagers is a national concern.

Households with young children need to take special measures when it comes to storing edibles. Poison centers have experienced an increase in accidental poisonings among children and youth in recent years. For example, since legalizing edibles, Colorado’s state poison control center reported a 70% increase in calls for accidental cannabis exposure in children.

Cannabis products cannot be legally marketed toward children, and most U.S. states require packaging to follow federal guidelines. However, retail packaging is usually child-resistant rather than child-proof.

Additionally, edible products often come in forms that are attractive to children, such as gummies and other candies. Children have reportedly brought medicinal marijuana edibles to school, thinking they were ordinary gummies and unknowingly shared them with their classmates.

Store edibles out of children’s reach and in child-proof containers. You should also clearly label them as cannabis products so they cannot be confused with regular food.

Smart Consumption

The essential factors for storage safety are light, moisture, and exposure. Airtight containers are your best friend, and refrigeration and freezing can help extend the shelf of most products. THC degrades slowly over time and should not be a concern when it comes to potency.

The best way to track THC concentration and food expiration dates is with clear and consistent labeling. If you misplace an expiration date or are unsure how long a food product lasts, just look it up. And remember, keep out of reach of children!

The bottom line is treat edibles as you would most other foods. Cannabis does not directly influence shelf life, and most edibles last as long as their non-THC counterparts. Most importantly, if you suspect something might have gone bad, don’t eat it! There is always more where that came from.