By Robert Bergman, ILoveGrowingMarijuana.com
A look at how to properly store marijuana
Black-market marijuana doesn’t need to be entirely dry because it will be repackaged and sold quickly to users. For sellers, moist weed weighs more, and most smokers prefer a modicum of water vapors to make their marijuana burn with a gentler smoke. But if you’re putting up a crop of nice marijuana buds (and leaves) that must last you for the next twelve months, until next year’s harvest, the same conditions don’t apply.
Mold and mildew are the personal-use grower’s biggest foes after harvest. I once watched, a little awed, as a veteran pot dealer dispensed with 25 pounds of very good bud in less than twelve hours; you, however, will face storing a pound of harvest (maybe more) for up to a year. Moisture in any concentration is abed thing for marijuana unless it is vacuum-packed (which still only slows the formation of mold), so the annual stash should be thoroughly desiccated before storing. It can be dehydrated later for smoking by adding a few drops of water per ounce, and letting it sit in a airlock bag in a warm room for several hours.
If the cannabis to be stored is too damp (you’ll feel the moisture by squeezing buds between thumb and forefinger), you can dry leaves with no more than a minute at a time in a microwave; buds are best dried on a cookie sheet in a kitchen oven that’s adjusted to its lowest heat setting. Don’t microwave buds dry unless you first remove any seeds you might want to plant later.
The ideal environment for storing dried marijuana is much the same as for any dried or packaged vegetation: Store in a cool, dry place. Attics are perfect, so long as they are free of mice and squirrels that may actually eat your stash unless you store it in glass jars. Garages and barns are also good, but you must remove seeds intended for planting before winter can freeze them in northern latitudes, and it’s a good idea to package it in rodent-proof containers.
Alternately, harvested marijuana can be frozen like any vegetable for more than a year without fear of mold or loss of freshness. This is probably the best way to store your harvest, but only in places where laws have been relaxed sufficiently to let you get away with it. If you freeze, be sure to remove the seeds for next year’s crop before you do, because freezing a seed kills it (that’s why cannabis doesn’t reproduce by itself in places where the ground freezes in winter).
Store Marijuana: Packaging
The icon of black-market marijuana is a flap-top sandwich bag filled with buds; these are taken from 1-pound “bricks” that have been vacuum-sealed in heavy-gauge plastic bags. The bricks themselves may have entered the end-user marketplace immersed in engine oil or other liquids at the bottom of an open-head barrel; in the sewage tank of a motor home; or in the vermin-infested bilgewater of a seagoing vessel. In so many cases in recent years, young smokers have come to associate the smell of pot with the faintly similar but sickly sweet fragrance of dryer sheets; placed in many shipments of smuggled cannabis to confuse the noses of drug-sniffing dogs.
All of these are good arguments for growing your own cannabis; and for packaging it with personal care and more security. The packaging of commercial pot headed for market isn’t selected because it is necessarily the best method of containment; but rather because it suits the purposes of the people transporting and selling it. Again, handling a hundred pounds of bud meant for sale on the streets is less personal than preparing your own stash, and personal-use growers can do themselves and their harvest better service than just stashing it in baggies.
In places where marijuana is still an illegal plant; growers need to be aware that packaging their harvests into the usual 1-ounce plastic bags is often constituted by courts as evidence of felony dug trafficking; the reasoning being that only a dealer would have possession of more than one small, salable package of marijuana.
The fact is that it’s impractical, and even harmful to your harvest, to store it all in a single container; a little mold on one damp bud that escaped you can quickly spread to all of the weed in that container. For that reason alone, it’s a good idea to segregate a supply into smaller units. And if you’re especially prudent, you might want to divide your stash into several scattered caches; this ensures you won’t be wiped out if someone stumbles onto one of them.
My preferred method of caching dried and ready-for-storage marijuana is to first package dry, uncleaned (filled with seeds) buds and cured leaves separately into l-quart airlock backs.
The bags are filled only a quarter-full of cannabis; then a moisture- absorbing silica-gel packet—scavenged from electronics packaging, foodstuffs, and other products that normally include them—is inserted. Then I roll the pot rolled up inside the bag, bottom to top, squeezing out as much air as possible, and I seal the zipper lock. A pair of rubber bands, one at either end of the bag, help it to maintain a mold- fighting vacuum, while keeping it in a convenient cylindrical shape.
With my smoking weed packaged into rolls that contain less than I ounce of marijuana—because possession of an ounce or more is still a felony where I live, for now—I slide each bag into a mayonnaise or similar-size jar tall enough to accommodate them. Generally speaking, a jar that’s tall enough to easily fit a rolled-up quart-size bag under its cover has a large enough diameter to hold roughly l pound of marijuana. Sealed inside a snugly capped jar- with another silica-gel packet or two thrown in for good measure-your bud is safe from the elements for at least a year.
Maybe I’m paranoid, but even that isn’t good enough for me; I like to double-protect my stored harvest by placing sealed jars filled with bagged marijuana into paint cans or plastic buckets with water- tight snap-down covers. These can then be buried or otherwise hidden in places where they aren’t likely to be found by people; remember, legalized or not, your bud will always be a stealable commodity; protect it, spread it around in several caches, and hide each one of them well.
One suburban stash for folks who grow-or buy-their smoke in volume, but don’t want to risk having a large amount of it in the house, is to loosen a square of sod in one corner of the backyard, bury a sealed plastic bucket of weed in the soil down to its lid, and replace the sod.
For me, it’s paint cans inside hollow stumps back in the woods; even a military ammunition box with lock-down waterproof lid wrapped in a garbage bag and buried in a shallow hole camouflaged with ground debris. Whenever I run low, or need extra smoke for the holidays, I know where I can get another ounce or more with a quick trip on snowshoes.
I hope you learned something from this article; please leave your comments and questions below.
About Anthony Martinelli
Anthony, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheJointBlog, has worked closely with numerous elected officials who support cannabis law reform, including as the former Campaign Manager for Washington State Representative Dave Upthegrove. He has also been published by multiple media outlets, including the Seattle Times. He can be reached at TheJointBlog@TheJointBlog.com.