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We Took a Crash Course in Cannabis and Realized We Knew Nothing

Max Montrose giving a lecture on cannabis in Austin
Max Montrose giving a lecture on cannabis in Austin Malen Blackmon
Most people who smoke cannabis consider themselves connoisseurs and botanists specializing in the cannabis plant. And sure, they could probably look at a bud and tell if it's good or not, but we’d bet money that they couldn’t tell someone how that bud would make them feel without even smoking it.

Max Montrose, co-founder of the Trichome Institute, has developed a series of courses that focus on interpreting the terpenes in the cannabis plant to decipher its quality and effects just by looking at it and smelling it. Montrose calls this method “interpening.”

Terpenes are found within the essential oils in all plants, fungus and even insects and bacteria. They are what give plants their scent, taste and effects. The terpenes in lavender, for instance, are what give it that distinct scent and calming effect. One of Montrose’s main goals for developing Trichome Institute was to provide people in the cannabis industry with the skills they need in order to be successful in a game with a lot of shady players.

Montrose has been getting national attention, having been featured in High Times Magazine, ABC News and as a guest on multiple national podcasts and interviews. He says that Trichome Institute uses a different approach from 95% of the other cannabis education companies.

“My thing was, we need to stop misinformation, and that needs to start with cannabis education that is actually real and true,” Montrose says. “The way that you're going to prove that your information is real and true, is by making sure that you're getting your information from real and true sources and can back up everything you're saying and prove it whether it’s been researched or not.”

Montrose says that the majority of interpening methodology and theory hasn’t been fully researched yet, but has been proven to be veritable. “We have people review our information who are high-level lawyers, doctors, scientists, and make sure that what we are telling people is real and true at a high level,” he says. “And that’s the difference with the Trichome Institute.”

Montrose’s career in the cannabis industry started long before Colorado’s decision to legalize. He was an activist who led marches and rallies throughout Colorado and pushed for statewide legalization. He still partakes in activism, but learning about the secrets of the cannabis plant naturally forced him into the field of education.

“Because the industry thinks it’s so real, the government thinks it’s real,” Montrose says of misconceptions about cannabis. “Almost everything you know about weed is the crazy talk. Our goal is to stop the confusion and misinformation by teaching people what is real and true.”

“My thing was, we need to stop misinformation, and that needs to start with cannabis education that is actually real and true." — Max Montrose

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Brandon Allen, a partner of Montrose and an interpener at Trichome Institute, says, “In the world of cannabis, anyone who smoked two joints and has an Instagram account is suddenly an expert. There was a need to be able to create a program that understood cannabis at an expert level that you can prove yourself with.”

The same rules for interpening apply to marijuana and hemp. Hemp is only defined by its extremely low level of THC, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis, so after taking courses at the Trichome Institute, you can use your new skills while you're purchasing hemp. We had the opportunity to sit through one of Montrose’s and Allen’s seven-hour lectures in Austin where we also learned about the different molds, fungus and poor grow techniques that can cause the cannabis to be subpar.

I already considered myself to be pretty knowledgeable of the cannabis plant, but after taking their course, I felt like I didn’t know a damn thing beforehand. I was fully engaged as I sat with over 40 other interested people looking to learn more about cannabis, and I watched as Montrose and Allen received a round of applause at the end of their lecture. Can you recall a time in your life when one of your teachers or professors ever received a round of applause for their clarity on a subject after a lecture? Didn’t think so.

The Trichome Institute will start offering new courses soon, as they redefine and restructure their old courses. Just like any class at any school, textbooks and the course curriculum are updated every couple of years as more information becomes available. Montrose says he wants people to implement what they learn from the Trichome Institute and continue to educate their friends and family. It’s up to the cannabis community to define the cannabis industry.

Says Montrose, “The thing that we truly hope is that people literally run with it.” 
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Malen “Mars” Blackmon has been a contributor to the Observer since 2019. Entrenched in Southern California’s music and culture at an early age, he wrote and recorded music until he realized he wasn’t cut out for the music industry and turned to journalism. He enjoys driving slowly, going to cannabis conventions and thinking he can make sweatpants look good with any outfit.