Could mushrooms be the next cannabis? Here to answer this and provide us some key insights into the fascinating world of psilocybin is Max Montrose, President of Trichome Institute.
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DISCLAIMER: DO NOT USE ANY DRUGS OR SUBSTANCES WITHOUT CONSULTING A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. THIS IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.
- Max’s background in cannabis and how he came to start Trichome Institute
- An inside look at Trichome Institute and its mission to set the highest standard for science, education, and certification in cannabis
- Counterfeit cannabis strains and why the products you’re buying may not be what you think they are
- Why Max believes we need to change our terminology for sativa and indica
- Factors that determine a strain’s potency and why THC isn’t everything
- Trichomes and Max’s recent discovery of a seventh cannabis trichome
- Terpenes and the importance of smell in deducing good terpene chemistry
- What the term “OG” actually means
- The Trichome Institute’s new Interpening book and what sets it apart from other books on cannabis
- A deep dive into psilocybin mushrooms and their life-changing benefits
- How the decriminalization of psychedelic mushrooms is gaining traction and what that could mean for you
- Common misinformation surrounding psilocybin
- Max’s advice on how to achieve an optimal mushroom experience
- Where Max sees psychedelic mushrooms heading over the next 5-10 years
Matthew: Hi. I'm Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I'll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at cannainsider.com. That's cannainsider.com. Now here's your program.
Hey, CannaInsiders. Here's three things you're going to love about today's interview. One, killer why and how the cannabis you are buying at your local dispensary may not be the strain you think it is. Two, what the term OG means. Hint, it's not what you think. Three, how the decriminalization of psychedelic mushrooms is gaining speed and what that means for you. Lastly, the information we are providing about cannabis and psychedelics in general is for informational purposes only. Please talk to your doctor before taking any drugs. Now here's your program.
Just as soon as we feel like we have reached a new stage in our understanding of the cannabis plant, more key insights emerge to help us grasp how this plant can change lives and help heal the planet. Here to help us open our minds and dispel myths about cannabis is Max Montrose, founder of Trichome Institute. Max, welcome back to CannaInsider.
Max: Thank you so much for having me back on the show. Happy to be here.
Matthew: Give us a sense of geography. Where are you in the world today?
Max: I am in good old Denver, Colorado, in my happy place, which is my greenhouse in the backyard.
Matthew: Great. For new listeners, can you give a high level overview of what the Trichome Institute is?
Max: Yeah. So for all those new listeners out there, we are an education company in the cannabis space that has a very different approach to teaching people about cannabis, the plant, what it actually is, why it's not Indica or Sativa, why THC doesn't equate to potency, why screen names aren't reliable. And how we teach those things are actually in very interesting ways. We take our approach more from the structure of how people teach wine experts to be wine sommeliers. But we also write other textbooks on cannabis, industry textbooks such as the Responsible Vendor Program, which is we're certified in the State of Colorado by health divisions, marijuana enforcement divisions, and we put together other curriculums. We run cannabis cups. We do consulting. We do a lot of different things in the cannabis space. But I think the most important thing to note is how and why we do things so differently.
Matthew: How about can you share a little bit about your background and journey and how you got into this cannabis space and how you started Trichome Institute? It seems like you're like the perfect age, place and, personality for this cultural zeitgeist. So I want to understand how you stepped into it.
Max: Yeah. I think the way you put it was perfect. And this, you know, this comes up from time to time how kind of perfect it is. My age, my passion, where I am. And, in all honesty, it really is kind of a perfect recipe. I feel like I am on this planet, at this time, this type of person in the family that I was placed in to do this work. And so I grew up with cannabis, when it was against the law on the black market, dreaming of some time when it would be legal in the industry. And the plant actually helped me get off of a variety of different pharmaceuticals when I was quite young, the plant started teaching me things, and how to observe it and work with it in different ways.
And I basically fell in love. I became enamored and I also became upset that it was against the law, and people would, you know, get in trouble for this thing. So yeah, I became an activist, you know, when the marijuana movement was literally happening in my own backyard. And I essentially grew up with the cannabis industry. When I was in high school, we were just beginning to fight for it and all throughout college. And by the time I got out of college, I started working in the industry. And the industry started slowly becoming more and more professional as I started doing different jobs in the business, as well as becoming just also frustrated with people's information based on this plant and patients' access to getting the stuff that they need. And that's really kind of what drove the need for education and legitimate education specifically. And so that's pretty much where the Trichome Institute came from.
Matthew: I had some cognitive dissonance when, you know, the first time I smoked marijuana, you know, as a young teen, and kind of waking up to the fact that it was so much different than the society around me interpreted. And then kind of from the outside world, I'm a criminal. But I know that there's something special here. And how did you kind of reconcile those two clashing thoughts?
Max: Well, I'll tell you a funny story that I don't tell most people. The first few times I was smoking cannabis, when I was just so blown away by how incredible it was that I could have so much control over my own self-alchemy. And placed myself, my mind, my body, my spirit into different places of understanding and exploration and how just unbelievably interesting that is. Just pure fascination. And I just wanted to try it all the time. And I was really young. And I was so scared of getting caught by my parents or, you know, the law because I know how illegal it was.
I actually used to dress up any camouflage and go down to the creek and like hide in nature and smoke weed in a ghillie suit. I was so scared to get caught. And people who know me, I'm like the weed guy like around the world, you know? And so it's funny like because I've got every single psychedelic drug you could ever imagine tattooed to my left leg. And people just know I'm not afraid whatsoever to tell the whole world how much I love this stuff. But boy, when I was a young teenager before I kind of grew into who I am now, I mean, I was really scared. Yeah.
Matthew: Yeah. That's funny. I love the camouflage. Oh, man, I wish we have a picture of that.
Max: Yeah. Little redheaded ginger Max hiding in the bushes, smoking weed.
Matthew: Oh, my God. And, Max, you talk about counterfeit strains. And I think it's important for people to understand what that means if this is their first time hearing you. Can you talk a little bit about that? And how if you go into, say, four different dispensaries in Denver or any city and buy let's say Blue Dream just because that's easy. Is that really Blue Dream? And how do you think about it differently than someone else in the space?
Max: Well, Blue Dream is my favorite example. So much so that when we discuss what the strain name dilemma is, where it comes from, what it means, and why it's problematic, we use Blue Dream as the example in the new interpening book, our 130-page hardcover. It's in our new course online. But it's also in like little cool videos on our Instagram and also YouTube. So like if you were to YouTube Colorado's most counterfeit strain, it's a leaf viral video that they did of me actually going around Denver buying Blue Dream, bringing it back to the office. And what we were doing is analyzing its inflorescence. And for people who don't know what that means, it's basically the elements of the flower structure.
And so we were essentially just putting them next to each other and demonstrating how the bracketing structure, the style and stigma structure, the length, the color, the robustness, the smell, the thickness between the bracketing structure was just fundamentally different between the different varietals of "Blue Dream" that I picked up just that hour. And two of them actually looked like, smelled like, felt like, what you would consider Blue Dream, if you had the ability to know that varietals typicity. And typicity is a new term for the cannabis industry. It comes from the world wine sommelier.
But, you know, a lot of industry OGs, if they think about the flavor, Durban Poison, or Ghost Strain Haze, or Jack Herer, these really classic strains that are totally real and true, they know those tastes and those flavors. They can almost taste them just by thinking about them. But these flavors are so unique, that there literally is nothing on the planet similar to them. You cannot describe to someone what Durban Poison smells like. It's kind of like explaining to a blind person a specific color pattern. It doesn't work.
And so what typicity is, is having that intimate relationship with that specific thing that you have to know from knowing it personally. So I can show you what Blue Dream or Durban Poison is in our expert level interpreting courses and classes to associate your senses with its typicty so you have that understanding. But how much of the people who smoke weed do that? And how much of the industry, right? Like the majority of the industry is kind of like Coors and Budweiser. You walk into a dispensary, they call it Blue Dream. You buy some weed and I guess it makes you high and you're happy. But for the people who care, is it Blue Dream? And, you know, it most likely isn't.
And then that's where we get into trouble because the majority of people who purchase cannabis buy cannabis based on two things, the strain name and its THC percentage. And those two things tell you the very least about what it is that you're engaging. And so I would say our approach is pretty different and serious by saying...we tell people to give up on screen names because they don't matter. And what does matter is your ability to know what you are engaging, the quality of it and how it will make you feel. On a big spectrum of psycho pharmacy, not one or the other because Indica and Sativa are something other people need to also better understand.
But we also do teach about strains that do deserve names. And so like in Northern California, like in the world of wine, there are some really serious, sophisticated OGs who deserve the utmost respect. And not just them but the specific strains that they invented, have been working on, perfected, and then continue to grow in the same way, in the same area, the same appellation within the same terroir. And when you do have that type of consistency, that's what's considered landrace, which is funny because that's the opposite of what the cannabis industry thinks the word landrace means. They think it's some wild plant out like in nature brought back. It's the opposite. And so those true land races with those true heritages that have a story to tell and a unique experience to experience deserve to be called what they're called. That's why we need truth and labeling laws. And that's why like the cannabis industry, you know, is slowly moving in that direction. But some of this stuff can get quite complex.
Matthew: Yeah. Now, you're proposing new terms replace Indica and Sativa. Can you talk about that and why it's important?
Max: Yeah, absolutely. It's super important because Indica and Sativa aren't correct. Now, from a, like, let's just all chill out perspective, it is helpful to have, you know, a communication, right? Like that's helpful. And so if it helps people to communicate that when you say Sativa you mean a stimulant. And when you say Indica you mean a sedative. Fantastic, right? Like I don't want to stop quality communication, right? But then you judge the Cannabis Cup. And so I get paid to fly to Oregon with my team of cannabis experts. And we literally are given 200 of the most gorgeous genetics, some of them, some of them we're actually wondering why it's in a Cannabis Cup.
And you start digging through the Sativa entries and these are the most sedative flowers, you've seen some of them, a handful of them. And vice versa. You dig through the Indica category and my whole team is looking around at each other. We're just like, "This is the sexiest stimulating flower of ganja ever. I mean, we're going to give it a great score on a quality perspective. But why is it in the Indica category?" And if that happens at the level of cannabis competitions, then you know that this is happening more often at the level of the dispensary. And so even if you're communicating terms like Indica and Sativa meaning stimulating and sedative, who's to say whatever nuggets in the jar is what you're trying to ask for when the terminology you're using is incorrect to begin with?
Matthew: Right. Oh, my God.
Max: Holy smokes. Okay. So...
Matthew: Can you describe the last one that actually won and what that was like? I'm just curious.
Max: Well, actually the best flower that won was 14% THC and was just the most gorgeous thing in the world. I mean, we rarely get 98 and 99 on our point scale and this thing was like tipping the radar in ways we've never seen before. And we announced to the audience that the winning flower was not the 32% THC, it was the 14%. And a lot of people were really shocked by that. But it's like I hate to break it to you. THC is not quality. THC is a molecule and it does something. And the rest of the planet and how it's composed and how it's grown and the smoothness of it and the cleanliness of it and the rest of its, you know, composition, chemical composition is what makes it it outside of just it's THC.
THC is not quality. It's a part of the plant. And then the funny thing is, and we crush this in our split busters episode with like cool graphics and everything to help people understand. But we just teach people why, you know, the 14% flower could literally get you two, maybe even three times more intoxicated than the flower at 32% THC. And it's because the flower with the really high amount of THC is super low in the rest of its other psychoactive chemistry. Dozens and dozens of other cannabinoids and terpenes due to its health and its quality. And so, yeah, people kind of need reeducation on what good cannabis is.
Matthew: Right. It's like saying, "Hey, the only measure of a good cake is it has a ton of sweetness." And, you know, that there's more to a cake than that.
Max: I have more analogies in my back pocket.
Matthew: Oh, good. Throw them out there. I know you got a switchblade full of analogies. Let's do it.
Max: Well, so one of our analogies when we talk about like THC isolate is how excited a lot of people and by people I really mean stoners are to have the highest THC they can get. Like this has been a mission in our culture for probably the past decade. Like can we achieve 99.9% THC? And we have. We've done it and it's isolate and it looks cool. It is kind of cool. And then what's really interesting is even freebase 99% THC, right, if you dab it that is still not half as strong as taking one like puff of flower of 20% THC in a bowl. And it's really fascinating.
And so there's a few things to this. One the analogy is, which would you prefer? A spoonful of sugar or a slab of chocolate cake?And because like sugar is crystalline and if you get THC to a crystalline state, there you go. Congratulations. And it on its own kind of sucks. But when you kind of mix it together and you put it together in the most perfect composition, you actually create this thing that is more desirable and in a lot of different ways.
Matthew: That's interesting. Now you mentioned that you discovered a seventh type of trichome in cannabis. First, can you explain what a trichome is for new listeners but also what you found there?
Max: Yeah. So trichomes are super cool.
Matthew: You named your company after the trichome.
Max: I did. Well, yeah, Trichome Institute. And it's more than they're just super cool. They're actually super important. The word trichome comes from the old word trichoma which means hairs. That's old Greek. And if you look at a sunflower plant or a tomato plant and then the plant looks a little hairy, it is their trichomes that is that composition that you're looking at. And so on the cannabis plant, cannabis is cool because it grows a variety of different types of trichomes. It grows two types of trichomes that are considered non-glandular, which means they don't grow a head full of fatty lipids that can and does produce chemistry.
And so those trichomes are cystolithic trichomes and unicellular trichomes, and my analogy for that is those are the little spikes above the buildings of every Starbucks that prevent pigeons from landing so that they don't, you know, take a crap on your head. Literally same point on plants. There's no difference. So the plant just grows it's like little spiky force field to prevent bugs and other things from getting near it. Outside of that, the glandular trichomes comes that the cannabis plant does produce, you know, two types of bulbous trichomes, sessile trichomes and of course everyone's favorite, the capitate-stalked trichome. The big, bad, beautiful, gorgeous mushroom looking gland.
And that gland is what photosynthesizes cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. The whole spectrum of it. And it does this based on two things. The first is the plant's blueprint, the DNA, and the genetic code that it's been gifted to produce the chemistry composition that it does. Kind of like our own genetics. And the second is its environment. And it's the same thing as us again, right? Like we are a product of our genes and our environment and so is cannabis. And so the plants can evolve slightly depending on where they are and how they're taken care of.
But when it comes to the seventh trichome, geez, I can rant. I'm sorry about that. Holy smokes. Are we even talking about the seventh trichome anymore? Okay. So yeah, so the seventh trichome. So if you're really hip to your cannabis science, you most likely have a copy of the "North American Cannabis Pharmacopoeia," which I believe is a 2012 publication, and it has been reupdated. But in this publication, they really break down the cannabis plant, cannabis inflorescence in a really great way. And so this is the scientific community, essentially doing what I did with the interpening book, except our pictures are 1,000 times more gorgeous. Their pictures are like kind of blurry in a laboratory and ours are like National Geographic quality. We're pretty proud.
But they just show you the different trichomes. They show you what they look like and they label what they are. And we have a photo in our book of the seventh trichome that we've never seen published in Science anywhere before. And it is a type of capitate-stalked trichome. And what's really interesting about it is instead of having a head like a mushroom, the head is more like a teardrop. And the tip of the drop of the tear is actually pointed outward, if you can imagine that. And what's really interesting about this type of trichome is this type of icon is the most dominant trichome type of tobacco.
I grow six varieties of tobacco, really interesting vines from deep parts of the jungle, native tobacco from the U.S., Caribbean tobaccos. I love tobacco. It's my companion plant with cannabis. And tobacco is covered in trichomes. And the types of trichomes that you see on tobacco are this type of trichome that we see on cannabis every blue moon. We saw it twice on a Cannabis Cup. We talked about six months ago, maybe a year ago now. Geez, yeah. And we do have one photo of it in our book, but we don't know much about it.
Matthew: Is that why in some cultures you see people smoking cannabis with tobacco together? Like I've seen in South America and some places in Europe where it's a joint consists of both tobacco and cannabis flower.
Max: Yeah, there's a few reasons for what's called a spliff. And, you know, that's the difference between a joint and a spliff is the tobacco combination. When I was...
Matthew: I never understood that. I've always wondered why that is?
Max: Yeah. So a spliff and that term is European. And the other way to consider a spliff is by calling it a European.
Matthew: Okay. You know, it's funny, I try to talk to people in other countries and I've asked people like, "Why are you putting tobacco in here?" And typically, the answer I get is that they don't even know. It's like they've been doing for so long that it's like why do you have like a line with your coke? And it's just like, "Well, I guess I like the flavor. But I'm not even really stopping to think about it much anymore because I've been doing it for so long." Like I can't get an answer here. It's always like, "I don't know."
Max: Yeah, yeah. And in Europe, that's just kind of how they do it. It's actually just kind of part of the culture, whether it's flower or not. That's just kind of what they do. It's just kind of their thing. But here's something interesting about spliff smokers, once you've got a spliff smoker on your hands, it's kind of hard to get them back to being simply cannabis smokers. So lots of people who do combine nicotine with their cannabis, it's such a different experience that actually when you do go back to smoking a joint, I could actually see why those people in Europe just never do. It's like it just doesn't almost make sense. Like if that makes sense.
Matthew: Yeah. It's kind of like once you have cream in your coffee. Like you're not gonna go back to black coffee. It's like the habit is formed.
Max: Yeah, correct. Correct.
Matthew: Yeah. Now, is there a smell determines leaving the plant? And why should we care about that?
Max: Well, yes, I mean, the terpenes in and of themselves are the smell of the cannabis plant. And these smells are in a state of evaporation. And if they weren't literally wafting themselves continuously in a chain of isomers the way that they are and do, you wouldn't be able to smell that. Like two feet from the plant. And it's kind of funny. Like it's kind of like a no duh sort of thing. But sometimes when you just give people that imagination for two seconds. They kind of get it a little more.
Matthew: That makes sense.
Max: Yeah, like if you could see them and, you know, my analogy for terpenes is they're the little beer bubbles on the size of your glass of your beer. And so if you pour a beer that is more clear than foggy and close to the bottom of the glass, like you can see that pinhead that's almost invisible to see. Then from that invisible, tiny point, it makes absolutely no sense how it can stem thousands and thousands and thousands of large gas bubbles from that point so much so that it creates the head of the beer when all of those little bubbles on the side of the glass together create the head. And the head of the beer is the total smell of the cannabis plant. It is the bouquet of the totality of all of the dozens and dozens or even hundreds and dozens of terpenes types in a constant wafting state from the plant.
So when you smell Durban Poison, you are not smelling the 6 or 12 or even 40 terpenes that your local cannabis laboratory, gas chromatography for the terpenes types. They're not telling you the other potentially hundred other terpenes in that arrangement that is making that specific smell, Durban Poison, that specific smell. And that's also why when you go to a lot of the some types of terpene companies who sell terpenes with strain names on them, when you smell the terpenes, and you're just like, "This doesn't even smell like weed." The reason why is there only combining the 6 or 12 of the types of terpenes let's say from that Durban Poison example. But they're not combining the other 150 that actually make that smell.
And so are they important? Yeah, they're important because not only can you smell them, they have a psycho pharmacy. And they're dictating the difference between your stimulating and your sedative experience. And so what happens if you have a cannabis industry that has a situation where it grows so much product and it takes so long to move it that, you know, 100 pounds later from a specific harvest by the time you're on your last pound in the dispensary, that flower could be sitting for six months or longer. And potentially in ways that might not have kept the cure in the best way.
And so if you approach, not even a dispensary. There's black market weed, too. We're just talking about cannabis in general. If you approach cannabis that you have a difficult time smelling, your face is doing chemistry. Your face is detecting the lack of terpene types that are there. And thus you can do something really easy. There is a lack of chemistry. What kind of chemistry? Stimulating and sedative chemistry. So what do you left with? Your run of the mill cannabinoids and that's kind of like a vape pen without terpenes in it. Like you can get high but you just might not go up or down. You'll get high moving forward, if that makes sense.
Matthew: Yeah. Now, we hear the term OG thrown around a lot in the cannabis community but people misunderstand it. Can you tell us what that means?
Max: Yeah, absolutely. So there's going to be listeners who are definitely going to disagree with this so listen up listeners. And I say that because it's funny. What's funny is even words like OG, people are so passionate about. Like the amount of passion people have for this plant, this culture and this industry. It's really intense. And so, to me, it's kind of funny, like how serious people get sometimes about things like the word OG. And so what a lot of people think it means is ocean ground. And what drives me crazy is I hadn't found one person who believes it means ocean ground and has had an ability to explain that to me in a way that makes sense.
And so if you just meditate on it for two seconds, it just doesn't make sense. It's because it's like because nobody grows weed at the ocean. Nobody grows weed at the beach. And, yes, the Pacific Northwest does grow the best weed in the world, from California to Oregon to Washington to BC. Like it's true. But when they're 100 or 200 miles inland, just because their geography on a map like comes near an ocean, does that mean it's ocean ground? It's just like it's just ridiculous. There has to be meaning and context of vocabulary. Which is why our new terms for Indica and Sativa are so cool. If you want to talk about that still, we can do that.
But so just to get this over with, OG does mean original gangster. And you have to pay respects to the original gangsters. Who are the original gangsters? All of the growers in the Emerald Triangle that literally risked their entire lives, their land, and their families to give this country the cannabis that's had for decades during its prohibition. And who respects them as gangsters? Gangsters themselves. So when gangsters are rapping in South Central LA about the really good gooey, sticky chronic without the seeds and the stems that's coming from up north, those dudes are paying tribute to the other gangsters because what they do is super gangster. They got helicopters coming after him for Christ sakes. Don't say it's not gangster.
And so people were also looking for original types of Kush in the '90s because when a lot of the Kush varietals were coming out of the Emerald Triangle, people wanted to know if it was the real kind, if it was the original, the OG Kush. Is this the OG chronic? And so OG comes from that culture and it comes from that place. And it comes from gang culture. And that's totally cool.
Matthew: Now, Max, let's talk...we talked a little bit about the pictures and your book being National Geographic style. But if we had your book out in front of us and its 130 pages, I believe, hardcover, and we were just a pop up a random page, what kind of information do you think would be a juicy little tidbit that people could learn about?
Max: Oh, I'm so glad you asked. I mean, here, instead of a tidbit, here's the whole kit and caboodle. All right? A lot of cannabis books are the same. A lot of them are the same. If you see hash books, they're all the same. Besides that the ones that have personal stories to them, there hasn't been a lot of newness to cannabis in a really long time. And what's really cool about my book, our book, what the Trichome Institute put together, because, oh, my God, I could not have done this by myself. Especially, Chef Brandon Allen, he definitely made this book what it is, 100%.
The whole book is brand new. It's the book that it shows you the new way of cannabis. I don't know of another cannabis book out there currently that educates people on what cannabis Appalachians are, or [inaudible 00:33:55] or typicity or how and why they're not Indica and Sativa what they should be based on science. Most people think the word marijuana is really racist. Our book covers why the word marijuana isn't and why it's super beautiful and why you should use that term. We also have a really cool YouTube on that, by the way, too, with a professor that's like a half hour long. It will blow your mind. It's super awesome.
But, you know, the book is the ability to say, you know, you don't have to...no, from here on out, if you understand interpening methodology for the rest of your life, no matter what situation you're in, whenever you're approaching cannabis, whether you're growing it, buying it, selling it, whatever, talking about it, your ability to understand it from an actual perspective with real words and terms and hold that conversation, but even more so dissect your flower for its quality and for its psychotropic direction, regardless of its lab test and what it's called, is the ultimate power in your own cannabis everything.
So if you're a consumer and you're consuming cannabis for specific reasons, like I want to smoke one type of cannabis to go to bed, another to do my work, but a different kind when I go to this concert. Strain names and lab tests aren't going to help you but interpening will. And so for a book to be, you know, over 100 pages of new cannabis information, we're super proud to offer the industry a way to look at this incredible plant in a way that we believe it deserves. It's real. This is science. This is no more black market culture. This is no more stoner culture. This is not Indica and Sativa anymore. If you want to actually know cannabis at an expert level, this book in our course interpening will most definitely get you there.
Matthew: Okay. Now, Max, we're kind of in an interesting parallel with cannabis with mushrooms. Just for people that know they may have heard some information on the news like mushrooms, Denver, what's the status of mushrooms and their legality in Denver where you live?
Max: So we're talking about magic mushrooms?
Matthew: Yeah, we're talking about psilocybin, right? That's what we're talking about.
Max: Yeah, yeah, psilocybin, magic mushrooms. The current legal status, where I'm standing right now they are decriminalized. And so what that doesn't mean is it doesn't mean they're legal. And it doesn't mean it's medical. And a lot of people kind of get tripped up on that. But what's really fascinating that I think the thing that people should pay attention to is the fact that magic mushrooms are a schedule 1 drug the way cannabis is today. And schedule 1 drugs are defined based on three things only. It is a drug substance that has the highest potential to kill you. It has the highest potential of addiction and it has absolutely zero medical benefit.
Matthew: That's so harsh.
Max: That is the definition of a schedule 1 drug. And what's really fun is I'm unaware of a schedule 1 drug where all of those things that it's defined by should most likely place every drug in that category in probably category schedule 3. And what's really interesting about category schedule 3 is that's where the United States government has chosen to place its version of medical marijuana, which has been legal and on the market longer than I've been alive. So the U.S. government knows the cannabis plant produces this molecule called THC. And they know it's medically beneficial. That's why they turned it into a pharmaceutical called Marinol which was made available on the marketplace in 1985.
Marinol because it is a medicine and it's so non-dangerous or addictive, it's in schedule 3. But our version of cannabis, the medical marijuana industry itself that serves the actual holistic plant, it's in the same category as mushrooms. It provides no medical benefit. And so it's really important to understand this kind of stuff because these are the reasons why we have a multibillion dollar federally illegal industry that's legal that's also illegal because it's legal, right? But these are the nuances that people have to understand so that they can help us navigate this stuff. So when I lecture on psychedelics, I teach people that the path to, you know, drug legalization, ending the war on drugs is it's a recipe. And follow the recipe. And the recipe is the same recipe the State of Colorado did with cannabis.
Our approach to decriminalizing it, then medicalizing it, and then legalizing it is boiling the frog. And the frog that we are boiling are essentially soccer moms and legislators. So if you can get soccer moms and legislators to take a big deep breath and know that mushrooms have a great medical benefit, Johns Hopkins University has been proving how they help people overcome addiction, depression, anxiety, and their greatest medical benefit with highest amount of evidence so far is helping terminally ill patients get over their fear of death, which is really, really important. So imagine, you know, you're going to die. Like this is your last year on Earth, Matt, say goodbye to all your friends and the smell of grass in the morning because you're done. And it's terrifying.
And if you had one substance that you could take and have peace with yourself because you took it and it gave you that peace, how could you take that away from someone who needs that? So we need medical mushrooms and we should have them. And there should be a system that takes care of this situation in a really serious and logical way. And so that's what's happening in Denver right now. And let's not forget Oakland, California as well. And Oakland did more than decriminalized mushrooms. They decriminalized entheogens. And entheogen is a sacred plant medicine. Peyote, ayahuasca, San Pedro, cannabis, [inaudible [00:41:10]. All of them. And so, yeah, this is a big deal, man. This is a really, really big deal.
Matthew: Now, if you were to jump on a subway with a friend and he only had two stops to tell that friend what you find most compelling about mushrooms right now and that limited time, what would you tell them? What would you share?
Max: I would tell them that if you take mushrooms the right way, set setting and skillset. Not a concert or your mom's basement. If you do mushrooms properly, they can change your life. They can put you in its place, in your place in a perspective that is positive and conscious in terms of personal growth. And I think a lot of the world needs that right now including me. It's the same thing as PTSD and what they're doing with MDMA. Same group out of Johns Hopkins maps. Yeah. And also, MDMA, schedule 1, even though it's curing people's PTSD, not curing, treating PTSD. So, yeah, I think this is important stuff to talk about.
Matthew: Well, when I talked to...some people are really on board with that they want to try mushrooms, but you said, you know, set setting and so forth. I am nervous about having a bad trip that seems like I would be out of control. And that's where the fear really comes from. I've been on the edge of having a bad trip before. But like when I just accept what's happening versus try to control it, that's when the bad trip just seems to go away. And it kind of goes back into a good place as long as you're in a fun...not fun, but just kind of a chill environment that's not gonna present too many negative surprises. But can you just kind of talk about how you would answer that question like, "Hey, I'm afraid of having a bad trip? What do you say when people say that?
Max: I'll say good, you should be afraid. You damn right, you should be afraid because if you're not, you're crazy. And it's because if you...you know, first of all, that fear of the unknown is you being your most human. It's a gift to your species to keep you alive. And so use that fear and that amount of caution to ensure that you don't do them wrong, that you do do them right. Be afraid until you're no longer afraid. Because you've done enough homework, you've done enough research. And maybe you've even set yourself up with a trip sitter.
Where I live in Colorado, there are actual trip sitters that you can hire. And these aren't just hippies and T-shirts like tie-dyed T-shirts, right? These are people who have gone to school for psychotherapy, typically at Naropa. And they're highly experienced with these substances. They've done them many times themselves and they know how to help you push through really difficult situations. And they're there for you. Like you're supposed to cry your brains out and have a breakthrough and it gets uncomfortable and it doesn't look pretty. It's not really normal in our society. It's perfectly normal in other cultures all around the world.
And so, you know, if you don't have access to a professional trip sitter, if you have access to mushrooms, you know, don't be afraid to ask a very legitimate, reasonable person who would be a good trip sitter to be there for you. And then also just know that there's a ton of misinformation about mushrooms as there is cannabis. And one of the things that's really frustrating is one of the largest information sources on drugs like mushrooms is Arrowhead. And if you go there and say, "Hey, how much is a dose?" They will say an eight. And that is insane. Because an eighth of mushrooms is three and a half doses. But you have to say like, "Wait, Max, if you're saying a dose is one gram of psilocybin mushrooms, what species of mushrooms are you talking about?"
Because out of over the 30 types of psilocybin species that not only grow around the world, but are legally shipped in spores to mushroom enthusiasts and cultivators all over the planet, how do you know that the mushrooms that you're eating are cubensis or are Golden Teachers, Purple Majesty. You know what I'm saying? And so mushrooms is something that you should, like cannabis, tiptoe with in terms of an experimentation phase. So micro dosing them by taking a tiny amount just to gauge it is what you should do. Maybe explore it a little bit further. And when you know, like, "Oh, this bag of mushrooms that I just so happened to have affects me in this way."
This Sunday, I'm going to plan a large dose, which means I'm going to take five times the small amount I took originally, maybe even 10 times and still know that I'm eating less than maybe 2.5 grams mushrooms, maybe 3 grams. Just don't ever exceed, you know, 4 grams of mushrooms unless you're ready for the big boy dose, which is considered 5 grams of mushrooms. But, you know, if you're taking 2 to 3 grams of mushrooms rooms in a safe place, your setup, you've got a game plan, you know what you're going to do in an 8-hour period, yoga, meditation, journal, draw, talk with your friend, go on a walk. You really could have an explosive experience in your own living room that could really propel your consciousness and your understanding of everything. You know, like a 30-year worth of therapy and get over some stuff.
But that's using mushrooms like purposefully. And sometimes mushrooms can be fun, like just eating a small amount at a concert or going on a hike and that's fine too. But it's just it's just not okay to just like eat some amount of some kind of mushrooms and not have a game plan and not know who you're hanging out with or what you're about to do. Because you're set, you're setting, your friends, what you're doing, what you ate could do the opposite of give you a 30-year burst through time. It could send you on a on a psychedelic hell for hours on end to the point where you actually might want to commit suicide. It's so psychologically bothersome. And that's a danger point to which is why people have to be really cautious about this stuff. And why we have to like go slow with it.
Matthew: Right. Now, what is the connection between mushrooms and Santa Claus? A lot of people don't know about this, but after you kind of explain it, they might see this in some of the artwork from years past.
Max: Yeah. And I don't know if I'm the best person to...
Matthew: That's okay.
Max: ...tell the Santa Claus story. But I never grew up with the guy. I'm a Jew. No, but the Santa Claus thing is fun. So, you know, we're talking about Amanita muscaria mushrooms. And that in and of itself is different because what we're not talking about is psychedelic mushrooms but we are talking about psychedelic mushrooms. Something really interesting about these psychedelic mushrooms that grow all over my state, they also grow all over the entire world. They are legal to possess and I guess, to use although be super, super careful because they don't have psilocybin in them. So the only types of fungus that are illegal are psilocybin mushrooms. And Amanita muscaria, the flyer agaric, the mushroom that's in your emoji on your cell phone, the Mario mushroom. The famous mushroom is the mushroom that we're talking about, the red one with the white spots.
Yeah, so the thing is the reason why you have to be careful this mushroom is let's say two are growing next to each other. Mushroom number one could be as potent as zero and mushroom number two could be as potent as two million.
Matthew: Oh my goodness.
Max: And the way that you actually gauge it is by smoking them. And the reason why you smoke them is to decarboxylate them. Similar to cannabis. Although what you're decarboxylating is the ibotenic acid, which is the part that will really mess you up, hurt you. So you actually have to cook out the ibotenic acid in order to get to the psychoactive part which is the muscomil, muscomil, muscimol.
Yeah, that's how you say it, muscimol.
And in Siberia, the Siberian shamans learned a really interesting trick of decarboxylization which is feeding these mushrooms to reindeer in that the liver of the reindeer can actually process the ibotenic acid. And, I mean, it totally makes them sick, but it just doesn't kill them. And while these reindeer are flying, literally flying reindeer, the shamans can easily catch them and capture their urine. And the shamans drink the urine of the reindeer which is just loaded with the muscimol without the IBO tannic acid. And, you know, when they drink it, they can see their reindeer flying even easier. And they begin flying themselves.
But what you have to think about like that geography of the planet, when it snows it can snow up to 20 feet and it doesn't melt the whole winter. And these Mongolian humans aren't living in skyrises. They live in I would say a half a story yurt. Like a single story yurt, right? And so imagine a whole community of people snowbound in yurts. You literally can't walk out your front door. So I hope you liked your family because you're going to be trapped in the same living room with them in the dark for six months. Going to the bathroom, eating, everything. And it's not a fun time. And it's something that they have to survive through.
And so, you know, one way that this pagan culture began this celebration is by bringing nature into their homes and having a huge feast. Kind of like a Christmas tree and a big dinner. Wink, wink. Yes, like if people don't know, all of Christmas is entirely pagan. And that's my favorite thing about the soccer moms that don't let their kids read Harry Potter because it's got witchcraft in it. It's like half their culture is witchcraft. Anyways. Anyways. Okay, so some of the men in this culture, their job is to take care of people who are trapped in the snow. They're snow bound. And how they do this is by they dig themselves out on a daily basis.
And how do they take out buckets of feces in urine out of a home and how do they deliver food and medicine into the house that snowbound? Through a chimney. And how do they get through this chimney while they're basically flying above these yurts gliding on the snow on...what does Santa use? A sleight, right? Like they've got a sled and what animals do they have up there? Reindeer? So yes, literally, this red mushroom with white all over it in winter time, these shamans dressed in these enormous coats are using reindeer and sleds flying all over the place delivering gifts through chimneys. And there's your Santa Claus, kids.
Matthew: Yeah. Gosh, it's so crazy about that stuff. It's so interesting how that stuck with the culture. Now, in terms of where you think mushrooms are going over the next 10 or 20 years or less than that, maybe next five or 10 years is it going to be we're going to be boiling the frog, as you said? But is it going to be we're going to stay in this kind of decriminalization state and at least in Colorado for some period of time?
Max: Yeah, I mean, you know, like how this following the recipe, you now have a community of people who just got really excited because of the legislation. And due to this excitement, you're starting to see the ideas of businesses popping up. It's actually been in the newspaper already. People doing micro dose psilocybin coffee businesses. Businesses where they provide the centers and the therapist where you can go and do a psilocybin treatment, kind of like I was discussing with a trip center, but kind of in a more of a legal and professional setting. But in order for any of those things to take place, the legislation has to push beyond it being simply not criminal.
Because it needs to have a medicalization or a legalization element to it in order for you to possess, give, take mushrooms and not go to jail. And so as these young businesses are becoming excited about this new frontier potential as they should be and as they should be doing their homework and being really, really, really cautious. There's going to be a community of activists who is going to be responsible for pushing the legislative envelope to the place that's going to allow these young businesses to do what they do. And something that I wish cannabis businesses did is give back to the activists that spent thousands of their free hours fighting tooth and nail, risking their lives sometime to make this multibillion dollar cannabis industry exists in the first place. Because when you participate a lot in that activism role, one thing you see is the industry that you helped to create sometimes they're not very aware of the hard work that went into it. And so paying your respects is an important thing, I believe. But, yeah, I think it's going to be a process, but I think the processes began if they get asked.
Matthew: That would be a great way of doing it is having centers where people who are nervous for the first time or even there for multiple times could go in and have one of their fears assuaged in a professional environment, know what kind of mushroom they're getting and have an idea of how it's going to impact them. And that would be a great thing if that could happen. Well, Max, a few personal development questions for you, is there a book that's had a big impact on your life or your way of thinking that you'd like to share?
Max: So the interesting thing is as an extraordinarily add dyslexic, reading is difficult for me, even though I write books. And I also I just occupy myself as a workaholic to a point where I don't give myself a lot of opportunity to sit down and read books. When I do sit up, like self-help books that I listen on Audible, like when I take long drives just to kind of think about ways just to improve myself as a person. There's been a few of those. One has been "The Miracle Morning," which is super awesome. Another one is called "Unfu*k Yourself." Fantastic book. It's really good.
But like the books that helped me become me are like the book on "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants." It's like reading a dictionary. And that kind of stuff gets me excited. But I just literally like when I have the time, I'll get this big, heavy book, put it in my lap, and I just flipped through pages. And I'll recognize a plant that I've always seen in my whole life like down at the creek and like, "No way, that's psychoactive?" And I go down rabbit holes and I go online and I start learning and I start growing and I start practicing and I start researching.
And, I mean, I just literally just pick up just texts of plants. And I'd fall in love so quick with each plant and how they can do the things that they do that I must have them. I must study them. I must keep them. I must learn from them. I must try them. And I must teach other people about them. And so I don't really sit around and I'm not part of like Oprah's book club. I'm more, you know, kind of mad scientist with a big group of different books all over the place. And I pick and choose at them. And it's a little more crazy than it is organized. But beautiful things do come from it.
Matthew: And what do you think is the most interesting thing going on in your field apart from what you're doing?
Max: The most interesting thing? Well, I mean, apart from what I'm doing, I find it really interesting how people are growing and producing cannabinoids in ways where they're not using the cannabis plant whatsoever. They just pick what cannabinoid they want to grow and grow real fast. Actually, I was listening to one of your episodes about that not too long ago, Matt. Yeah. You know, I find that really interesting. But at the same time, I saw it coming years ago and it's like how all drugs are made. So it doesn't really blow my mind. It's just outside of what I'm doing in the world of cannabis that I find interesting.
But the thing that I find the most interesting that's really happening that does involve my world though is people starting to take cannabis seriously. And that means selling it more like wine and less like cannabis. And that means a lot of the stuff we were just talking about earlier. Like having the state of California actually designate a legal Appalachian for cannabis. The first time in world history that is huge. And for people who don't understand, every white grape grower in California wishes they could call their product champagne because they could sell it for five times more. But they legally can't because it's not from the Applachia of champagne France.
And so to give growers a name and an ability to sell their product for what it deserves to be sold for instead of competing with these McDonald's this coming out of the valley for 500 bucks a pound is going to allow high quality cannabis to exist and for people to experience it by treating it in a way where people care about it by giving it truth and labeling laws. And so that's important.
Matthew: What is one thought you have that most people would disagree with you on?
Max: Oh, my gosh. I wish my girlfriend was here. Let's see. One thought...I must fill this. I don't even know if I want to tell you.
Matthew: Please. Now you got to. I'm in a safe place. I'm in the proper mindset. I'm ready.
Max: Yeah? Okay. Let's just say I've got real, real serious concerns about how far along the problem of our planet's demise is. And the way that I understand it is potentially 50 years further than where everyone else seems to be right now. And it's terrifying because I'm actually experiencing it because I grow so many different types of plants outside inside in so many different ways. And I have for so long and I'm so attentive to each and every detail, every bug, every insect, what the dirt smells like everything. Even the air feels like. Everything.
And my little antennas and my radars are just going off in ways that other people don't experience and don't see and even don't even believe is real. And it's really hard to have so much like truth and knowingness in your heart about something so important. And then to be met with people who simply just shake your head at you and think you're crazy. And so, yeah, I would say the state of where the planet is and the fact that it is much, much, much, much worse than we really know and what's even being reported. And I know a lot of people do agree with that. So there's a lot of people who don't, a lot. And so I would say that that's probably a big thing that a lot of people would probably disagree with me about.
Matthew: Yeah. I noticed the drive in across the Midwest in the summer. My windshield used to be when I was young kid is covered with insects when you'd stop at the gas station or something. Like just totally like the whole grille the windshield and everything. And now it's like there's none.
Max: And the thing that's really frustrating with the people who don't agree with this is when they don't agree from their position of science, which is the fact that the planet does this naturally and always has, and the thing that jus, like, befuddles me is like, "No, duh, the planet goes between cooling and warming's." And of course we have evidence for that. I mean, it's like every single scientist says the same thing. But the idea that it's not based on humans, like the billions of us that didn't exist a few hundred years ago that do now and the millions of types of manufacturing and industry that...I mean, like it blew my mind that producing clothing actually produces more pollution than the entire airplane industry globally.
And I'm like, "Wait, what? Like making clothes is worse than that tens of thousands of airplanes just dumping fuel in the sky on a daily basis." Like people don't even have an inkling that the fact that trash is not against the law is going to kill us. If it was, there would be millions of new jobs to fell and a planet to save. And so it's just like it's insane that people choose to not understand what is so evident that humans and our industrial revolution and actually tying this into cannabis, this actually all has everything to do with cannabis. And what's really interesting is it's because the gentleman who were sitting around a room with each other, making the choice, whether the rest of the world was going to exist on a planet that was industrious from non-renewable sources or renewable sources was a choice that a group of men made in a room.
And we're talking the oil and car manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, and paper manufacturing. In the heads of all of those multibillion dollar industry strip ease in the United States since the 1920s have one common enemy, cannabis. It was the one plant that you could make anything out of. And Henry Ford was building biodegradable cars out of cannabis and running them on cannabis fuel with the diesel engine because Rudolf Diesel designed an engine to run off of renewable plants. So when men decided that they were all competition with each other greed. It was one or the other. He was either renewable plants that weren't going to pollute the earth or a limited resource and the one that they could control which was oil. Or paper from trees that took forever to grow instead of growing entire forest overnight in Kansas in your own backyard with hemp, and same with chemicals, and same with medicine, same with cigarettes and even same with alcohol.
And so that's why the cannabis prohibition exists in the first place. And, you know, if we just chose to make every piece of plastic biodegradable out of cannabis, make our cars biodegradable, run our cars on it, our paper, our oil, I mean, cannabis even can conduct electricity. There's nothing on the planet we can't do with cannabis, which is why it's been against the law. Has nothing to do with getting high. We have a fantastic pharmaceutical industry that's there for that. So I'm concerned about the planet and in ways that a lot of people disagree with. It's frustrating. And the one thing I hope that we could all just agree on is if you wanted a new way, a new industry, a new job, new opportunities, new everything, a new world, introduce cannabis and exchange for everything else we have and have fun with it. Because anything we're doing now we can do with this plant. It's the reason why it's in the Bible.
Matthew: You know, I think about this a lot, probably not as much as you but I think about it. And I feel like there's kind of like this psychological warfare of the Hatfields and the McCoys about like, "This is happening. This is not happening. And what's the solution?" And I was thinking, you know, the solution often is proposed like a tax. And most people think about taxes like this burden they've put up with. Like when I saw how Colorado incentivized electric cars like the Nissan LEAF and stuff and Tesla's, it was very successful, very successful, along with the federal tax credits. I'm like, "Why can't we just..." I mean, most businesses will not lobby against a credit. And if taxes all go to some huge bureaucracy, like a carbon tax, they might not use that in innovative ways.
So how can we just like make a starburst of the right incentives? And I think the answer would be tax credits that allow businesses keep more money by doing the right thing in a way that is so much faster and more effective than a centralized body could do. I don't know if that's good. That's probably not a complete answer. But I feel like it would get past like global warming happening, not happening, just caught like, you know, if you make yourself have a higher ecological sustainability score, you get a tax credit for this behavior, these type of behaviors.
Max: And there's a brewery in Colorado called Asher in Boulder. And all the beer is all, you know, non-GMO produce. But how they cook the beer, all of the energy that runs the entire brewery, they cultivate themselves from the sun and from the wind and even down to the internet, the Wi-Fi they provide inside their tap room is actually Wi-Fi that's solar generated energy. And so that's like...I just love the idea that if you choose to be a business to have a zero footprint, we're in a world now with so much technology that you could achieve that. I mean, it's like you don't have to be hurting our planet more. You could actually be reducing it. And I do so as much as I can and I'm going to try to start educating people in really just fun and simple ways how I try to reduce my footprint.
So maybe they can reduce those in the same way. But you know, the thing that's the most shameful about, you know, a carbon footprint talking about cannabis is like who in the hell...it seems criminal, I'll just say that, that in the state of Colorado the cannabis industry is not allowed to grow cannabis plants with the sun. And we have some of the brightest sun in the whole country. We're a mile high. And so we have to grow cannabis indoors. And when you understand how large the cannabis industry in Colorado is, we're talking like 800, 900 licensed cannabis grows, some of which have 5,000, 1,000 watt high pressure sodium bulbs in each of them, which is a street lamp apiece, 5,000 of those in a single warehouse times hundreds and hundreds and hundreds.
It is worthy of like making your stomach a little sick. Thinking about how much coal we're ripping out of the earth in throwing into the air just to grow plants under light bulbs because someone legislatively decided we shouldn't grow them outside. And to me, that seems like, you know, a handshake with a power company. Because how could something that serious, that drastic, with such an impact that's so wrong exist so prolifically? I mean, we've had legal cannabis in Colorado since 2000 from a medical perspective. And we have a really fantastic well-developed industry and we can't let a plant grow outside? Come on, man. So, yeah, yeah. All that kind of stuff.
Matthew: Well, Max, we covered a lot of ground today here. Please let listeners know how they can find Trichome Institute and your educational materials and your Instagram feed and all that good stuff?
Max: Yeah, so you know all the normal stuff, trichomeinstitute.com. We have tons of free videos. Lots of cool stuff in our shop, courses online, Instagram, @TrichomeInstitue. Same thing with all the rest of our social media. If you want to follow me and my adventures around the world personally on Instagram, I'm Max Montrose. And I would check out Spliff Busters on YouTube. Just type in Spliff Busters. If you enjoy listening to me crush cannabis facts, it's a fun show where we do a lot of facts real quick. So I think people have fun with that. And I think it covers the basics. Yeah. Thanks so much for having me on the show again, Matt. I really appreciate it.
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