A Beginner’s Guide to Curing Your Cannabis
Curing your marijuana flower will increase its potency and shelf life, and produce a more flavorful end product. Keep reading to learn how to cure marijuana.
You’ve spent months growing and caring for your cannabis to produce healthy flowers, or “buds.” While you may be tempted to dry and use your harvested cannabis as quickly as possible, taking the extra time to properly cure your marijuana flower will lead to a significantly better final product.
What Is Curing Marijuana?
Curing your cannabis is the final step in growing and harvesting your own dried marijuana flower for consumption, whether that is by smoking, vaping, making edibles, or more. Curing of marijuana happens directly after the plant has been harvested. It is a prolonged drying process that uses environmentally controlled conditions to remove the moisture from your cannabis flowers and allow the plant’s cannabinoid and terpene packed oil to fully mature.
Why Is Curing Marijuana Important?
Curing is a crucial, yet overlooked, aspect of cannabis cultivation that makes a considerable impact on the final quality of marijuana flower.
As an overview, curing and drying your marijuana after harvest:
- Increases the potency of your marijuana
- Prolongs the shelf life of your marijuana
- Improves the flavor and smell of your marijuana
Marijuana growers primarily cure their flower because it’s an essential process for preserving the potency of the flower’s compounds and other natural constituents. This is particularly important if you’re growing medical marijuana and relying on particular cannabinoids.
The curing process encourages partial decarboxylation, a process that converts certain compounds into new ones. For example, cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), found in fresh cannabis, gradually turns into the highly sought after cannabidiol (CBD) during the drying process, while tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) becomes the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Properly cured marijuana flower stays potent and flavorful for much longer than uncured marijuana, which can become moldy relatively quickly. This is particularly important if you’re hoping to store your marijuana for future use, or rely on always having enough that’s ready to use between harvests. Well-cured marijuana flower can last for up to two years if stored in an airtight, moisture controlled container in a cool, dark place.
Curing marijuana flower after harvest also enhances its flavor and smell. A slow curing process preserves the flower’s terpenes, the aromatic compounds that give cannabis its unique flavor and smell. Curing helps ensure that the flower’s subtle flavor undertones are more pronounced, while uncured, wet flower can have a grassy or hay-like flavor.
How Long Does It Take to Dry Marijuana?
The cannabis curing process — from once the flowers are harvested to when they are ready for consumption — usually takes about a month.
There are two major steps in the curing cannabis process:
- The initial drying step takes up to two weeks, depending on how the cannabis plant was grown and the humidity where the flower is placed to dry.
- The final cannabis curing step takes a minimum of two weeks, but some growers find that curing for 4-8 weeks produces greater results.
How to Cure Marijuana?
If you look up how long to cure cannabis, you’ll find multiple answers. While there are several ways to cure cannabis flower, most people use a variation of a single popular method that has shown to regularly produce high-quality buds that are ideal for consumption.
Here’s a look, based on that popular method, at how to dry and cure cannabis.
Step One: Initial Dry Trim Process
Experienced marijuana growers typically use an initial drying process that aids in slowing the rate of evaporation to prevent the plants from drying out too quickly.
- Cut branches 12-16” long from your cannabis plants and remove unwanted leaves.
- Hang the branches from thick string or wire.
- Store the hanging branches in a dark room with temperatures kept at 60°-75°F and humidity at 45-55 percent. To optimally preserve the flower’s flavor and aroma, add a small fan to the room to gently circulate the air.
- Around 5-15 days later, or once the flowers feel slightly crunchy and small branches easily snap off, gently take the branches down and proceed to the next step.
Step Two: Cannabis Flower Curing
Once your cannabis flower is mostly dry, it’s time to move on to the final curing step. This can take a few weeks and a little bit of diligence, but proper marijuana curing is key for optimal taste and potency.
- Collect multiple airtight containers (but not plastic bags). Growers commonly use quart-sized, wide-mouthed canning jars. Tinted jars are ideal because they help prevent UV light from seeping in and degrading the flower’s compounds.
- Trim the flowers from the plant’s branches.
- Pack the flowers loosely inside the airtight containers, filling them about ¾ of the way to the top without crushing the buds.
- Seal the containers and store them in a spot that’s cool, dry, and dark.
- During the first week, open the containers for 5-10 minutes several times per day. This allows the moisture leaving the flowers to escape and replenishes the oxygen inside the container.
- After the first week, open the containers just once every few days to let the flowers breathe for a few minutes.
- Continue the curing process for at least 2-3 weeks. Many growers find that curing for 4-8 weeks improves the quality of the flower even more.
After the curing process, the exposure to air can oxidize and degrade the cannabis, so it should be avoided. Keep your well-dried buds in the airtight jars. If you plan to store your cured flower long-term, a vacuum sealer may be beneficial. You can learn more about storing marijuana on our Cannabis 101 page.
Learn More about Growing Marijuana
With laws related to medical marijuana and recreational marijuana expanding legal access throughout the United States, more people are interested in learning how to grow and harvest their own cannabis.