Going into my interview with Max Montrose, the President and founder of the Trichome Institute, I was nervous. I’ve experienced these types of nerves before – they materialize for any writer before a significant character piece is written. Where the average person might not have heard about Max, or the TriChrome Institute, there is a huge deal of information and interest directed towards their work in the professional arena of cannabis. Anyone worth their weight in weed can recognize the name.
Max is doing wonders for cannabis, its education and the scientific side of the industry. And here I was, another guy getting to cover his work. It was clear ten minutes into our discussion that Max wasn’t an intimidating or arrogant character. Rather, Max personally embraces and embodies the guiding principle and philosophy that is the foundation of his work and the TriChrome Institute – to help other cannabis businesses excel.
Across the short conversation I had with Max, his mantra shined. Everything this man is doing is making cannabis, and a whole slew of industries, better.
The TriChrome Institute is relatively new to the marijuana game, at least on the public side. With years of work underneath his belt designing the curriculum behind the courses for TriChrome, Max has almost been working away since at least 2009. In fact, even before TriChrome was a concept, Max has been passionately following and immersing himself in the cannabis industry. During our interview, Max recanted a collection of knowledge I imagine few will ever obtain. The beauty of this information is that Max’s goal is to make it as public as possible. There is no question that he’s light years ahead of the game.
There are people that exist in this world who have an intrinsic understanding or ‘je ne sais quoi’ for their respective fields. These people gravitate towards a craft. They latch on to their work, and then they hone it. Their focus, their drive, their knowledge, and their relentlessness move mountains. They spread enlightenment to dark corners. Philosophers. Bands. Artist. Politicians. Public figures. Athletes. If you look in every field, you see these greats. They are the people we remember not because they cry out for attention but because their impact is striking. Max is one of these people.
I watched as Max excitedly shared his brain – he was unfiltered, unguarded and enthusiastic. He doesn’t want to hide it. He won’t let it stagnate. He can identify if a weed was cured for too long, of if a flower has lost it’s potency from not being stored correctly. A few educational courses, a few consulting projects with the Colorado government, and an unparalleled personal experience in the cannabis industry bolster his name and his clout.
Max Montrose’s story begins long before the start of legal cannabis in the United States. Like many people who consume, Max was doing so as a means of regulating the issues facing him with his physical and mental health. When faced with the choice of being a slave to pills or a holistic alternative, Max decided to teach himself through observation and years of practice, how to make the switch to organic medicine. Where his first pot was being bought from the black market of marijuana, the education behind his consumption was anything but shady. Even as a consumer, he regularly spent time educating himself on marijuana. In fact, he still does.
“At least once a week, for two hours on Saturdays, I educate myself on new things. I have questions, and I ask questions about my questions. I find new information. I may be an ‘expert’, but I wouldn’t say I know everything by any means because I always have more to learn.”
Max’s mentality shines is exemplified in the progression of his career. He foundation began as a budtender in the first legalized medical dispensaries. He later found himself working as a grower, an extractor and a manager for dispensaries. Listening to him talk, he is profoundly humble. Montrose wants to learn the most and teach the best on marijuana. Max believes in putting practice in action. In fact, this month, he and his team attending various classes to grow their understanding.
TriChrome to marijuana can be compared to the discipline of a Sommelier to wine. To be the best at their roles, Max is enrolling his team in not only wine education classes but also cheese and beer. Coffee and tea. They will spend a day being trained in cupping, the mastery of coffee and tea. The art of tasting cheeses compared to the art of tasting beer. They spend their time learning to offer better pairings, tastings, and the overall delivery of a coveted product.
So what is the TriChrome Institute? I have tiptoed around it briefly but it is important to recognize their work. TriChrome is the foremost source of training for all things marijuana related within both Colorado and the United States. Currently, they offer three variations of product training, but it’s also an evolutionary process. Their most popular course is Interpening, a form of training that teaches you how to successfully and properly evaluate your marijuana flowers. The course on Interpening is multifaceted and contains several levels of concepts. The other two courses they offer are Budtender Training and Responsible Vendor Training.
The differences between these classes are varied, but the results are the same. The consumers of marijuana have a better experience consuming, and the people selling the marijuana are doing a better job at meeting their consumers needs. Each training achieves this in a variety of methods:
In Responsible Vendor training, the staff of dispensaries are working to learn the in’s and out’s of the industry’s rules, regulations, safety and standard operating procedures. For Max, when designing this course, the most important was to focus on ensuring the owners and workers know as much as possible about their cannabis product.
“In so many other classes, you learn about the basics. How to tell if someone is inebriated. How to check a fake ID. You don’t learn about cannabis, though. So often, we forget to train on the thing we are selling. For our RV class, you have to learn about the science of how different cannabis products work on people. Its method of consumption, how it can impact users. We want our attendees to learn about the product they are selling.”
The significance of the RV class is important to note – dispensaries who become Responsible Vendor Designated by TriChome have the ability to negotiate legal infractions and fines by the Marijuana Enforcement Division; whereas dispensaries who do not take the training don’t! For years now, Max has been working on it, and he is proud the MED supports his efforts in certifying his training.
The next class is Budtender Training. With two levels of training currently offered, it ties perfectly with Interpening, but offers the added customer service element. Think about it, how many times have you been in a dispensary and not known what you are getting? How many times will the average consumer never understand the strains they are smoking because the people selling it to them are failing at providing accurate information? Max wants to combat this.
“In so many dispensaries, you have a 21-year-old selling people medicine over the counter. Sometimes, these budtenders just moved here, and are selling to tourists with no idea about pot. The end result is bad advice. You don’t want a lazy indica right before you go to a concert at Red Rocks. But many bud tenders aren’t trained in explaining that.”
Not only is Max correct, but he is also leading a revolution. With many of the dispensaries he works with, Max sees budtenders who are making this profession their career. They see it as an art form and discipline. And Max is the master painter, helping teach them the brush strokes that allow them to create a beautiful work of art. The last courses focus on Interpening. As noted, these courses are designed to educate any consumer of marijuana about the products they are consuming. The courses move through three levels. Level I is a three hour course where participants work through the Interpening process to learn how to see and smell the differences between the cannabis variety types, plus all the quality control. Level 1 is for online and out of state forums where live cannabis samples cannot be demonstrated.
From there, Level 2 steps it up a notch. It also comprises a three to four hour session, diving into marijuana – from smells and shapes, eyeing the flower and judging factors. After completing the course, one can tell what strain the weed is, and can look for flaws in its health. The Level 2 class offers a chance to work “hands-on” with 50 cannabis samples.
The Level 2 course offers an additional element to the learning process – a test. Students are given ten samples, and asked to identify various strains, and in some cases, why the strain should be sold or smoked as a result of plant health. Level II moves beyond the basics, and puts quality knowledge into action. Students can identify what insect or mold might be affecting the bud, or what specific level of indica or hybrid the plant can be classified as. It is a thing of mastery. A green TriChome lapel pin is awarded upon successful completion of the test. From here, students can move into the Level 3 course.
The best Sommeliers in the world are ones who often spend at least five years practicing for their test. Embracing a similar concept, a Level III Interpener is one who knows much more about the cannabis product than an average budtender. To effectively complete the Level 3 Interpener must exhibit deep knowledge of cannabis history globally, horticulture, chemistry, law, sociology, politics, regulations, genealogy, and be able to demonstrate it. Level III Interpeners are masters in their craft. Few of them exist, and few will follow in their footsteps. They are decorated with the rare black TriChome pin.
It was blatantly obvious that Max was one of the prestigious few. I’m confident that a black TriChrome pin proudly adorns his list of acheivements.
Max has spent years designing the content behind his classes. With textbooks ranging from 300-400 pages, he wants to educate on cannabis. Containing a wealth of information and expertise, these are the first textbooks written for a cannabis curriculum. They are the pairing of work between professional course designers and cannabis experts, being reviewed and approved by higher authorities in respective fields.
“The issue is that we have two fields. You have the smart cannabis individual who knows everything about the plant but no professional mindset. The other side is you have the smart business person who has no clue about cannabis. And they don’t want to touch each other. There are no sources of good information. Go online and you see that there are these stoner forums with awful content. I want to get the right information to everyone so that scientists and legislators can communicate with long term industry pro’s who speak two different languages.”
Max is right. As regulations lax and more people immerse themselves into the business and science of marijuana, new, factual information is becoming available that can help both the consumers and dispensaries. More serious work is being done in educating the consumer and the business owner. The TriChrome Institute stands at the forefront of this work.
For the average consumer or the regular user, an exciting future lies ahead for weed. Interpening classes are gaining popularity and visibility. In the state of Colorado, the TriChome Institute’s goal is to host two courses each month. They are beginning to ramp up their schedule. As the list of new cannabis-focused teachers grows, so will the TriChrome Institute’s overall reach. The ultimate goal is to spread knowledge of and continue to ease information access on marijuana. The industry desperately needs the TriChrome Institute, and I am glad Max is leading the charge.
To learn more about Interpening or the Trichome Institute check out trichomeinstitute.com