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I know this isn’t super shocking, but yes edibles do indeed expire. Food products eventually go bad, and edibles aren’t any more special (Okay they are in a different way). But that container of those “meh” tasting, long forgotten infused gummies… now what? Here are a few things to know and consider when it comes to these elevated tasty treats and their perishability.

Let’s start by considering the ingredients. Some foods are more perishable and therefore are going to have a shorter shelf life than others, and that comes down to how it was made and the preservatives that are added to it. Some cookies and brownies were developed and formulated to be packaged and shelf-stable for a long time so of course these will have a longer shelf life than the infused baked goods you might take at home. Yes of course some products may not go bad per se (A gummy or chocolate bar), however they can get stale over time and just might not be as yummy.

Of course, all packaged edibles you buy from legal dispensaries come with the best-before or expiration date. With products that contain highly perishable ingredients like dairy, you’ll probably want to stick to dates given by the manufacturer. But what about all those sweet shelf-stable goodies like lollipops, gummies, or chocolate? Sugar acts as a great preservative, however over time color, flavor and texture might be less than appealing. The best-by date doesn’t have to do with the potency of the edible, but the shelf life of the ingredients used.

What about cannabinoids and potency? Does THC and CBD go bad? The answer is no, they don’t really go bad, but they can degrade. THC for example degrades into the sleepy cannabinoid you might have heard of: CBN. Over time and/or with excessive heat, oxygen and light, THC will break down into the less intoxicating CBN, meaning the euphoria THC brings may turn to sleepiness if your edible has been chilling out for a while. There hasn’t been a study on how bodily effects change when another cannabinoid like CBD degrades, though it’s a safe bet to assume that those old edibles may slightly decrease in potency.  

This is where that common sense, along with our evolutionary wisdom as members of the animal kingdom, comes in handy. If you’re asking the question if this edible has gone bad, use your senses as a guide. If you detect anything funky with the color, texture, smell, or the flavor seems off, toss it.

It’s always a good idea to keep your edibles in a cool, dry and dark place. Environmental factors such as sunlight and heat can degrade the edible and the potency pretty quickly. An airtight container in a pantry or cupboard is a great way to store most store-bought and shelf-stable products like chocolate and candy. But of course, always read the labels, if it says this product is perishable enough to need refrigeration, it should say so on the label. Will putting them in the fridge or freezer extend their shelf life? It can, but also be aware that unless they’re in their own airtight containers, they can absorb flavors and moisture from the environment. For anything infused you may make at home you can expect the same shelf-life as their non-infused varieties, just be sure to protect them from light, air and heat as well.

But the most important tip for edible storage is safety. With cannabis legalization spreading and becoming more widely available, the number of incidents of kiddos and pets accidentally getting into edibles is also on the rise. Always lock away your goods in a safety box to make for sure it does not get into the wrong hands!