Wednesday December 2, 2015

By CO Pot Guy

How to Become a Sommelier of Cannabis 420 Culture

As the cannabis industry matures, we’re seeing traditional industry concepts being applied to cannabis related goods and services. One business pursuing this path is the Trichome Institute, headquartered out of Denver, Colorado. The Trichome Institute has developed a cannabis certification course called, Interpening. Just as there are sommeliers of wine, cicerones of beer, and mongers of cheese, we now have Interpeners of marijuana.

With the legalization of marijuana, consumers now have a wide selection of strains to choose from. Since this industry is so new, many consumers are unsure of what look for when checking out the selection of flower at their local dispensary. The Trichome Institute is looking to change that with their Interpening course.

What is Interpening?

Trichome Institute

The formal definition of Interpening is “The scientific art of dissecting cannabis flower for total quality control and variety type designation”. Essentially, they are teaching students how to identify and evaluate cannabis based upon the plant’s structure and unique characteristics.

Cannabis aficionados have long been known to meticulously assess the different characteristics of their favorite flower. Things such as aroma, trichome density and ripeness of the flower have all been compared and bragged about for many years in the underground cannabis world. Now, the Trichome Institute is looking to standardize and legitimize the process of evaluating cannabis.

The Trichome Institute offers Level 1 and Level 2 Interpening courses that are open to the public. I decided to check out the Level 1 course to get a better idea of the curriculum and class structure.

Interpening Level 1

The course was held in a classroom at a small campus setting. There were around 25 students in the course. Max Montrose, who founded the Trichome Institute and developed the Interpening course, was our instructor for the evening.

Interpening Table
Various cannabis samples ready for evaluation
Interpening Table
Various cannabis samples ready for evaluation

Quality Inspection

After a brief introduction, we started with quality inspection. In this step we learned to evaluate things such as the structure of the flower, quality of the trimming process, checking the buds for mold, insects, as well as other issues such as nute lock and poor flushes. For example, if the flowers have a salty aroma, it can indicate a poor flush which will result in harsher smoke. We also learned to identify unhealthy flowers, such as those suffering from Botrytis (bud rot). The course was part lecture, part hands on learning. Max had a wide selection of flowers to evaluate, both the good and the bad. It was very interesting to be able to examine the flowers up close and personal.

Strain Determination

Next, we moved on to strain determination. The reality is that many strains of cannabis are mislabeled by dispensaries and growers. As a result, it is important for consumers to recognize certain characteristics specific to strains. For example, Sativas typically have more spacing between the branch nodes, causing the flowers to be more airy and elongated compared to Indicas. Also, Sativas typically have more pistols than Indicas. We also covered topics such as leaf structure, physical effects and aroma. By just smelling the flowers, you should be able to determine if the strain leans more towards Sativa or Indica.

Final Steps

The final step covered cumulative assessment and documentation. Essentially, we took the knowledge we had learned to determine the strain type and quality of the product. Max had plenty of samples on hand, so students were able to do side by side comparisons.

Going into the course I felt I had a decent knowledge of the basics of cannabis and nuances of strain characteristics. We definitely covered some topics I was familiar with, but it was nice to get a refresher. At the end of the course I had certainly learned some new techniques for evaluating cannabis, and had a lot of fun in the process.

I can certainly recommend the course to both amateurs as well as more experienced users, as this is useful knowledge that will make your cannabis experience even better. I believe all the students walked away having gained something. I look forward to taking the Level 2 Interpening course in the near future.

Click here to register for an Interpening Course

Interview with Max Montrose, Co-Founder of the Trichome Institute:

Max Montrose
Max Montrose
Max Montrose
Max Montrose

PotGuide: It sounds like the development of the Interpening course was a natural progression for what you were already doing.

Max Montrose: There are so many people from so many cultures who are now being exposed to the legal cannabis market who have not even heard there are different types of cannabis plants out there. And so, not only for the public but the number of dispensaries who send people through our course, it really helps to equip budtenders with a vocabulary and the knowledge of how to explain the finer aspects of cannabis to their customers. It teaches the public more about cannabis which increases their enjoyment.

PG: Why should people take your course?

MM: People should take the course because once you have a foundational understanding of how Interpening works, you can become very self-sufficient within all the unique cannabis experiences you can have…we can teach you how to pick out for yourself what type of herb would be best for that activity based upon its particular qualities and is that herb your purchasing of the quality you are looking for…unfortunately there is still a lot of crap weed out there and there’s some really fantastic stuff out there, so it empowers people to know is it well cured, well flushed, was it grown properly and how’s it going to affect me? It takes the mystery out of cannabis.

PG: That seems very useful, as we know the quality and knowledge of budtenders varies widely.

MM: I’ve seen a strong handful of budtenders that have blown me away with how much they know and how good they are at what they do, they’re very experienced. But I’m more blown away at how many budtenders do not understand cannabis whatsoever. If you ask them “scientifically speaking, what’s the difference between Indica and Sativa?”, the majority of them can’t even tell you that. So that’s why education is really important to dispensaries because the strain name dilemma does exist. So it really helps people pick out and recommend cannabis to people for a specific purpose and reason.

PG: What’s on the horizon for the Trichome institute?

Our online education courses for budtenders, responsible vendors, Interpening and then do ‘train the trainer’ programs across the country, so that other cannabis schools who want to use our textbooks, student workbooks and slideshow presentations and tools can share this information wherever you are in this country or the world. We are a legitimate cannabis education company that reviews and certifies, and professionally organizes information into curriculum, and want this information available to prevent cannabis misinformation. We are a wholesaler of cannabis knowledge. We’ll be sending out weekly informational videos to the inboxes of those who sign up online. We are sharing information with the world and training people.

PG: Thanks so much for your time, Max!

Click here to register for an Interpening Course

Photo Credit: PotGuide.com

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