Wines have their sommeliers, cheeses have their mongers and coffees have their cuppers, but what about people who pride themselves in being weed experts? Max Montrose, president of Trichome Institute, has used his love for cannabis and years of researching and dissecting the many complexities of the plant to create classes for people to have the chance to become the equivalent of weed sommeliers which he has he coined as an “interpener.” You don’t have to be a weed expert by any means to attend Montrose’s classes. The most recent interpening class had people from all walks of life participating. There were weed growers, budtenders, business prospects, lawyers, cannabis refugees, medical patients and everyday people interested in learning more about how to become an interpener.
“Unlike almost every other cannabis education company there is, all of my information is reviewed and approved by the highest authorities in cannabis, law, science and medicine,” Montrose said during the class. “We are trying to create education and training programs that are legitimate and train people on what [cannabis] is and how it works so that we can have a more productive industry.”
To be an interpener is to interpret terpenes which are the building blocks that create the unique smells of different cannabis types. Montrose named the art of cannabis sommelier, interpening, which he refers to as the science of dissecting cannabis flowers for total quality control and variety type designation. Quality control makes sure that the cannabis that is being consumed is safe, free of insects, molds, rots and has not gone bad. Variety type designation is based on the anatomy and structure of the bud itself.
The interpening classes consist of a three-hour long lecture, a 15-minute break, 45 minutes of olfactory and visual workshops for various cannabis features and concludes with a certification test. Montrose uses a three-piece toolkit he created based on the research he has done to debunk strain names and quality tests. The kit includes a Weed Wheel, Interpening Loop and a guidebook on how to look for potency, quality and weed structural difference.
“Taking the interpening class equips individuals with the knowledge and skills to assess cannabis’s quality and its predetermined psychotropic effect regardless of the fake strain name, inaccurate lab testing, and whatever BS your budtender is telling you,” Montrose said. “We [in the industry] have more megalithic and complicated problems than our own industry realizes or that the public realizes, or that patients realize, or governments or doctors. And by studying cannabis almost religiously my whole life, almost every time I meet a cannabis “expert” I quickly find out that they really don’t know much about cannabis at all.”
Montrose’s methods fundamentally go against marijuana choice being between the indica versus sativa dichotomy. Instead of strain names dictating choices at a dispensary he has found that bud anatomy, structure and quality which are assessed through his curriculum can best and most accurately determine the effects that a certain bud will have on its consumers.
“You have to be trained, licensed and certified to cut fingernails and to cut hair in the state of Colorado and you don’t have to be licensed or certified to sell psychoactives to the public or pretend you’re a pharmacist helping sick people with their medicine. And the medical marijuana industry is 100 percent a joke especially in Colorado. In other places it’s different. It’s actually different all over the world which makes this industry quite complex,” Montrose said in class. “[We started the classes], because the whole world has a complete misunderstanding of what cannabis is. It’s not logical to sell the tools by themselves without a class that can walk people through the complexities of the subject matter,” Montrose said later.
Though Trichome Institute has only been around for the last two years, a typical class hosts anywhere from 20 to 50 people. So Montrose’s education is making its way out of the just research and testing of cannabis and is now able to reach people inside the industry as well as the consumer which is a goal that Montrose wants to see become the new normal.
“We can’t wait to help wake up the world to the truths and realities of cannabis in so many different ways. The Trichome Institute is three different businesses that have tools and systems to solve the cannabis industry’s largest and most complicated problems. We love the challenge and the reward of teaching people the truth,” Montrose said.
If you want to impress your friends on how educated of a stoner you are or just want to learn how to pick quality over quantity in the sea of weed in Colorado then check out Trichome Institute and their classes and videos on interpening.
All photography by Canada Albin.