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Want to Become a Weed Expert? Try Cannabis Sommelier Classes

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.”

Trichome Institute president, Max Montrose, explains the interpening process at Monday’s class.

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.

Photography by Canada Albin.

“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.

Photography by Canada Albin.

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.

Photography by Canada Albin.

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.

Cannabis sommelier classes provide tools and education on how to find quality weed in a flawed industry.

Marijuana Experts? There Really Is No Such Thing

It was just last week that some coroner from Louisiana made national news by claiming that a woman died as a result of a marijuana overdose. Considering that there have never been any reports of someone croaking from cannabis, the story sparked a significant amount of outrage in the advocacy community. These folks can be an especially sensitive breed, presumably because the past several decades have been spent on a mostly fruitless crusade to get weed recognized for its medicinal benefits and made legal at the national level just like alcohol and tobacco.

But suggesting that someone actually died by smoking a little pot, well, them’s fighting words, as they might say in the South. So it was no surprise really that nearly every news organization ran a version of the THC overdose story, suggesting that marijuana experts were protesting the claim. I, for one, found this rather humorous, since there really is no such thing as a cannabis expert.

Although the cannabis plant seems relatively safe (I’ve conducted decades of personal research to come to this conclusion) the world still knows very little about its efficacy as a medicine, its overall safety and whether or not there are certain circumstances in which it could lead to death.

Now, I’m not trying to say that I buy into the coroner’s dead stoner claim. I certainly do not. As a man who once consumed his weight in high-powered, homemade edibles – which led to a three-day stoner excursion into the darkest parts of my brain, parts that I never wish to revisit, not ever! — I can almost guarantee there is no possible way for a person to get high enough to die – not on weed. But then again, I am no expert on every facet of this plant. Nobody is. Sure, we know a few things about it – like, it feels great, food tastes amazing when we’re stoned, and it makes all of the Pink Floyd albums sound even better — but to suggest that our knowledge of marijuana science is so vast and complete that we can simply discount the potential ills it may hold is ridiculous.

Even medical professionals, you know those people who are supposed to have a grip on all of the latest treatments and medicine, are no experts when it comes to marijuana.

In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) finds that most doctors do not know anything about cannabis – and that includes all of that CBD you’ve been scarfing down.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine found that 85 percent of so-called medical professionals have absolutely no education or training when it comes to cannabis. This means that when discussing medical marijuana with your family doctor, chances are everything he or she tells you, good or bad, is just an opinion and not rooted in any sort of science. To that end, the study also found that close to 80 percent of physicians don’t even realize that marijuana is a Schedule I substance. And check this out: Around 40 percent think that weed is a drug that has already received FDA approval. It is not. This is about as far from being an “expert” as it gets.

“Part of the reason physicians may feel poorly trained is that many of marijuana’s health effects are not known,” wrote Nathaniel Morris, lead researcher and resident physician at Stanford.

Because the federal government continues to hinder cannabis research, not even the scientific community knows enough about marijuana to call themselves experts. Sure, you might hear wild tales about how cannabis cures cancer– everyone seems to know somebody that is now cancer free because they smoked a little weed, right? But really, the best evidence we have on the subject of medical marijuana – an installment from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine — indicates that weed might be beneficial in the treatment of chronic pain, nausea and spasms. That’s about all of the credible science we have. It’s a far cry from being a salvation’s wing to all of the Earthly health problems that so many so-called experts have asserted.

What makes the situation even more disheartening is a lot of the critical studies published about the benefits of marijuana eventually turn out to be disproved. For example, back in 2014, the University of Pennsylvania came out and said that opioid overdose deaths were on the decline in states where medical marijuana was legal. It was evidence that the cannabis advocacy community has been using to convince lawmakers that legal weed might be the trapdoor they’re looking for out of a drug problem that is claiming the lives of tens of thousands every year.

Well, that research turned out to be a load of bull.

A new study from Stanford University – one based on the exact scientific methods as the one from the University of Pennsylvania – finds that opioid overdose deaths are actually increasing in states with legal weed. Now, here’s the thing: researchers don’t believe that marijuana is contributing to this newfound uprising in opioid-related incidents or anything – that’s good, at least — but they damn sure aren’t convinced that legal cannabis can save America from the dope scourge.

“What we found was that association between enacting a medical cannabis law and the rate of deaths from opioid overdose actually reversed over time,” lead researcher Chelsea Shover told NBC News. “When we did the study in 2017, the association was that states that enacted a medical cannabis law actually had higher opioid overdose deaths after the laws took effect.” Those states, they found, had about a 23 percent higher opioid overdose death rate than states in which medical marijuana remained illegal.”

So, just like that – marijuana went from being a potential solution to the opioid problem to ammunition that anti-pot warriors will most certainly use now to prevent the end of prohibition in more parts of the country. It’s the kind of situation where if you live by the sword, you die by the sword. Anyone who buys into the plethora of marijuana studies that surface on an almost daily basis and uses them as fodder to further the legalization movement is just waiting to get butchered by the opposition. It’s too bad that we don’t have any actual experts on the subject to level the playing field.

Sadly, it is probably best, from this point forward, to take all of the studies published on marijuana – the good, bad and the ugly — with a grain of salt. Until the federal government gets serious about exploring this plant in detail and chiseling away at the many claims, the truth is there aren’t going to be any experts to provide us, the nation, with definitive insights into the many allegations – THC overdose deaths or otherwise. When we live in a country where not even the scientific and medical community understands the true reach of this plant, how much stock can we really put in these sources?

We simply do not know enough about marijuana, the good or the bad, for anyone to call themselves a cannabis expert.