By Karen Berger, PharmD
Max Montrose, founder of the Trichome Institute and Interpening method, is a huge influencer in the cannabis industry.
Montrose’s expertise in cannabis goes back a long way - he was familiar with cannabis before the industry even existed. “I was quite young when I first tried cannabis,” he recalls. “I immediately noticed how medical marijuana helped my pain, sleep, and attention issues, better than any pharmaceuticals.”
Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Montrose and marijuana “grew up in the same neighborhood,” with the marijuana movement in full swing. Fascinated by the plant, Montrose dedicated his life to the study of cannabis. He spent time in college researching cannabis, writing papers, and found a way to apply cannabis to every subject. In his spare time, he worked in dispensaries and became an activist and got involved with legislation and reform. “I played a role in shaping the industry,” he says. Through his work, he found that most people in the industry did not understand cannabis. There was too much misinformation out there due to 80 years of prohibition.
Now that cannabis is legal and accepted and the stigma is slowly going away, a lot of inaccurate information is being shared.
When Montrose realized that “the vast majority of the industry doesn’t know what it’s doing,” he became passionate about education, and started teaching classes at a local college.
Montrose founded The Trichome Institute, which teaches about plants, interpening, what vocabulary is appropriate, and why. “We teach people how to see and smell the differences in plant types.” Because the majority of cannabis information companies perpetuate misinformation, Montrose says, “everything we teach is approved by leading authorities in cannabis law, science, and education; and when it’s not, we back it up with science and references.”
A common misconception people have is that THC is an equation of potency, but that is not the case, Montrose shares. He believes people need to stop thinking that THC is the only psychoactive part of the plant - there are hundreds that contribute to the experience. A 10% THC plant with strong, ripe, young terpenes can make a person twice as high as a higher content THC plant without those terpenes.
His YouTube video, Colorado’s Most Counterfeit Strain, shows that strain names do not equate to the same flower/herb/weed the consumer is buying because many names are inaccurate to the physical “strain.” This would mean that buying two different herbs with the same name will not guarantee the same effect.
Montrose is disappointed when doctors recommend edibles for pediatric patients, so they can avoid smoking, because edibles can be very potent and there are many other alternatives that do not involve smoking, such as transdermal wrist patches, sublinguals, nasal sprays, eye drops, and suppositories.
“The amount of products out there is unbelievable,” Montrose says. Colorado dispensaries are like “a candy store, with endless walls of isolates, concentrates, drinks, edibles, patches, vape pens, literally hundreds of products in one room - it will blow your mind.”
Montrose feels that many full spectrum products are a joke - consumers should ask out of the hundreds of beneficial chemicals that make up the full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids from a whole plant, how many of them are in this product? A true full spectrum is the entire flower minus the plant material, and “when it’s real, it kicks ass!” How often is a “full spectrum” cannabis product actually full spectrum? “Rarely,” Montrose says.
So how does a patient go into a dispensary and find the best strain for the condition that needs to be treated? “The truth is, everyone is different.” It would not be accurate or true to make blanket recommendations for conditions, because people react differently. Montrose believes that one cannot go by the strain names in dispensaries, but that the interpening technique should be used.
What is interpening? Interpening, broken down, is “interpreting terpenes” (using the first and fifth cranial nerve), or the art and science of the cannabis sommelier. Nine out of ten people purchase cannabis based on strain name and THC percentage, but should instead be looking at quality and effects, which interpening methodology teaches people to do.
“We teach people how to see and smell the pharmacology differences between any cannabis products - we become cannabis sommeliers.” Through his program, Montrose has trained over 4,000 people around the world, including budtenders, cannabis chefs, even moms.
“My mission in life is to crack the cannabis code.” Through interpening methodology (Montrose’s course, textbook, and tools), anyone can become a cannabis expert. Montrose invented the wheel, the interpening weed wheel, that is, an interactive, multi-dimensional paper that patients can bring to a dispensary to help guide them through the process. “We look at where you feel the smell in your trigeminal nerve, the smell type, and the structure/shape of flower. If you can combine those three things you have a better chance of determining if the product will be stimulating or sedating. This process is better than any lab test, because lab tests do not determine the psychotropic effect types of cannabis flowers (buds) when they test them.”
Montrose prides himself on making the cannabis industry more legitimate. He has also developed the TAG (Trichome Assurance Grading) system, which is a quality certification and analysis. Montrose built software to objectively grade cannabis quality and the effect that it will have.
Patients can come to the Trichome Institute to learn, for free with YouTube videos and social media that is updated daily, or can purchase up to 16 hours of training and certification online. “We’re fun, we’re cool, we’re from the industry. We are passionate about making sure people have the right information. We love helping people and being a part of the industry and doing the hard work we do.”
“Cannabis works, but you have to know how to use it.”
Check out The Trichome Institute!
Check out Max Montrose’s Instagram
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