A marijuana aficionado in Colorado has launched a program he hopes will make the title of cannabis interpener as familiar as wine sommelier, cheesemonger and chocolatier.
Max Montrose, the 29-year-old president and co-founder of the Trichrome Institute in Denver, said he designed the niche curriculum, which teaches students how to become marijuana experts, after he became fed up with the inconsistent quality and improper naming rampant in the blossoming industry.
Montrose defines interpening as the practice of assessing the quality and psychotropic effects of a cannabis flower using only sight and smell.
Cannabis has grown increasingly mainstream in recent years. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana. Five other states plus Washington D.C. have since followed suit, and the Canadian government says it plans to legalize the drug by next summer.
Montrose said the word interpening, pronounced in-TER’-puh-ning, comes from a hybrid of “interpreting terpenes.” Terpenes are what give marijuana its distinct aroma, he explained.
The courses are modeled after the wine sommelier program. Level one involves a 3.5-hour lecture and costs about C$220, while the second level costs about $335 and includes the lecture as well as a sight-and-smell workshop, followed by a test.
For the exam, students must take 10 jars of unlabelled cannabis and identify the five that are unacceptable because of problems like pest and mould and say why, then order the remaining five samples from most stimulating to most sedating.
Level three is still being finalized, but so far it is invite only and consists of an essay on the horticulture and history of cannabis as well as dissecting buds and training in hashish, an extract of the cannabis plant, Montrose said.
Fewer than half the students who take the test pass, he said, adding that distinguishing between a couple of subtly different strains of cannabis can be as delicate as distinguishing between two feelings in the nose that are millimetres apart.