Every stage in the lifecycle of cannabis is important, but curing is the crowning moment that ensures all the steps before it were not undertaken in vain. Curing is the final stage in cannabis cultivation, just before the flower leaves the warehouse for the dispensary, or for home growers, the final step in fine-tuning a harvest for consumption.
The easiest comparison to make explaining what curing is might be to say that it is like the aging of fine wine or whiskey in an oak barrel, a stage in the process that imparts the highest degree of flavor and smoothness to spirits. But while the results are along the same lines, the process is completely different for cannabis. In liquor, compounds in the oak mix with the fluids to produce the desired effect. Curing cannabis does not involve adding any foreign substances to the bud.
Curing can be seen as the final part of the drying process, but don’t ever mistake it for simple drying—think of it more as aging. While basic drying eliminates moisture from the mid and outer portions of the flower, curing is a prolonged process that works on dislodging moisture left deep inside of the bud. Drying the inner flower makes cannabis a less agreeable home for molds, fungus, and other pathogens that can be harmful to medical patients and people with immune disorders. If you tend to hold on to your stash for more than a few months, the internal moisture will eventually lead to molds or fungi taking over and destroying your buds, even if you store them in airtight containers away from light and moisture. You can store properly cured cannabis for years; non-cured cannabis will go bad after a few months.
Put it under a microscope and you’ll see the protracted curing process reduce the amount of chlorophyll and sugars left in the flower’s inner matrix. Chlorophyll gives cannabis that grassy, hay-like smell, overpowering the fragrance of the flower’s natural terpenes. While the chlorophyll evaporates, the terpenes continue to evolve until they’ve reached the true potential of the flower’s bouquet. The residual sugars that once fed the plant, end up being one of the main culprits creating a harsh cannabis experience. As both the sugars and chlorophyll dissipate, there’re less elements that irritate the throat when consumed, equaling less coughing and a more pleasant intake.
While the curing process is more than drying, it does start with a properly dried bud. Drying can take up to seven days depending on humidity, airflow, and style. Some grows dry entire plants or keep the leaves on, while others divide the harvest up into trimmed colas. You won’t get a good cure if you don’t dry the flower properly first.
The science of curing requires creating the perfect microenvironment for the dried flower’s flavors to naturally finish developing and for its chemical composition to become more amenable to consumption and long-term storage—small details that can drastically alter your experience with cannabis. But curing is as much an art as it is a science and most growers have their own specific curing systems that can range from soaking the flowers in water for a few days (which leads to some ugly looking buds so really isn’t that popular) to storing them in airtight mason jars for weeks, periodically opening them up to let out moisture and in fresh air (called burping).
Many grows in the cannabis industry are concerned with profits, which means quickly getting inventory onto dispensary shelves. Because solid curing adds significant time to the process—and many consumers have been raised on black market bud not knowing the difference between dried and cured flower—it can be hard to find well-cured cannabis on the market, if at all.
Turning good flower into great flower, and the best medicine into Cup-worthy cannabis, curing is the highest mark of a committed, caring, and conscientious cultivator, such as Verde Natural which is known for their slow cures. Verde has structured their cultivation system to ensure that each and every organically grown flower that gets sent to their medical dispensary or as wholesale to REC stores is cured to perfection.