Are There Sommeliers for Cannabis? Interview with Max Montrose

Max Montrose

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Just as a sommelier helps wine enthusiasts understand the most optimal way to experience wine, a master of interpening has studied the art and science of cannabis to helps their clients make the best choices for their needs.

Max Montrose, founder of the Trichome Institute walks us through how to take your knowledge to the next level.

Key Takeaways:
[3:43] – What is the Trichome Institute
[4:31] – The ROI of educated budtenders
[8:56] – Max talks about customer engagement
[11:00] – Max discusses the textbook used by the Trichome Institute
[14:33] – Max talks about light bulb moments for students in the classroom
[17:14] – Adding oils to vape pens
[22:26] – Max talks about interpening
[27:53] – What is nutrient lock
[30:50] – Max talks about the second interpening class
[36:46] – Misconceptions in the cannabis industry
[40:25] – Max discusses live resin
[49:33] – Max says all Indica and Sativa edibles are fake
[54:30] – Different strains for different individuals
[59:17] – Max’s advice to people looking to get in the industry


Click Here to Read Full Transcript

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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 atwww(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. That’s www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. Are you an accredited investor looking to get access to the best cannabis investing opportunities? Join me at the next ArcView Group event. The ArcView Group is the premier angel investor network focused exclusively on the cannabis industry. There is simply no other place where you can find this quality and diversity of cannabis industry investment opportunities months or even years before the general public. If that’s not enough, you will also be networking with the top investors, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the cannabis space. I have personally made many of my best connections and lifelong friendships at ArcView events. If you are an accredited investor and would like to join me as an ArcView member, please email me at feedback(at)cannainsider(dot)com to get started. Now here’s your program.

The cannabis education space is red hot with many students wanting or needing to develop their insight and understanding of cannabis in order to keep pace with the industry. To help further our education I’ve invited Max Montrose of the Trichome Institute back to the show. To give us a brief on not only cannabis education but some interesting trends that are emerging right now. Max welcome back to CannaInsider.

Max: Matt thank you so much for having me back.

Matthew: Max you’ve been a guest in the past but for new listeners can you remind us where you are in the world?

Max: Sure. I am born and raised in Denver, Colorado and I’m still here because it’s...

Matthew: Yeah.

Max: Yeah why would you be anywhere else I love it here.

Matthew: You’re like a; that’s a rarity. You’re like a Sasquatch or some endangered creature. There’s not many left.

Max: Well it’s true and when I tell people I’m from Denver the next thing they ask me is where are you really from? I have to defend myself and explain the streets I was born on and where I grew up actually in the city of Denver yeah so. It’s cool.

Matthew: They say Denver is becoming the next Austin would you agree with that or do you like to draw no parallels to your home city?

Max: Well I tell you what a few years ago one of the sayings that was definitely true was you could get anywhere in the city of Denver in ten minutes or less and Denver is a huge city. That is no longer true. The fact that we have I think they said something like 4,000 people are moving to Colorado a month right now. It is just; it’s absurd and so I’m now dealing with LA style traffic on my regular Denver streets and things have just definitely changed and construction is going up left and right everywhere. The economy is booming. People are happy. You can be gay and walk down the street holding your partners’ hands and no one cares the same way you can smoke a joint walking down the street. Everyone just lets everyone be who they want to be in Denver so it’s really cool.

Matthew: That’s great. I think a suggestion for you might be a jetpack to get where you want to go from A to B would you consider that?

Max: Well not only would I consider that but I’ll tell you that the guys who are doing the jetpacks are in Boulder and they’re predicting that you can jetpack from Denver to Boulder in within six or seven years; have that technology available so that would be totally cool.

Matthew: That’s the next thing I’m going to do immediately after this interview is learn more about jetpacks but switching gears let’s talk about Trichome Institute. Can you tell us what that is again for people that aren’t familiar with it?

Max: Sure. The Trichome Institute is a cannabis education company that is designed to help other cannabis education companies. So what we do is we build a variety of different types of education and curriculum for the public, industry members, governments, and even physicians within hospitals.

Matthew: Okay. Now I’ve had the experience of going to a dispensary and working with very knowledgeable bud tenders and then going to other dispensaries and working with some pretty new or unskilled bud tenders. In your opinion how can someone that has gone through cannabis education impact the customer’s experience in the dispensary? How they feel, how they walk away? What are your thoughts there?

Max: I mean to answer that it’s really night and day to get the difference of the experience of working with a bud tender who really understands cannabis from not just a personal perspective but a more in-depth scientific and medical perspective as well so that they can actually help their customers. And so what we try to do is we try to inform bud tenders that sometimes the best product to give a customer isn’t your favorite product. What you need to do is evaluate who your customer is and what their needs are and what they are trying to avoid. And so what we do is we really breakdown cannabis. Not in a way that’s too complicated to understand, but we definitely teach bud tenders how to evaluate people’s tolerance and needs and then equip them with the education and the vocabulary to explain why it is that these variety types, terpenes, and cannabinoids will affect them in these certain ways. What to avoid and what to look for.

Matthew: Yeah and there’s a huge variable I mean there’s many variables but just one is thinking about how people metabolize cannabis differently. Some people are fast metabolizers, some are slow metabolizers. Five milligrams could put them on the floor and it’s just so I mean that’s why you start low and go slow, but what other kind of things are you thinking about if you’re behind the retail counter that you want to make sure you give an optimal experience to a customer in a dispensary?

Max: Sure and so what I heard you just say was words five milligrams and start slow and what I think you’re referring to was edibles.

Matthew: Yeah.

Max: And the variable difference and so I tell people who I teach that edibles and smoked flower are too different drugs.

Matthew: Yes.

Max: The reason why I say that is because it’s true. When you metabolize Delta-9 THC because it’s not water soluble and your body’s goal is to make it water soluble so that you can excrete it out, your liver metabolizes it by changing the molecular structure from Delta-9 to 11-Hydroxy THC which is a different, slightly different but different molecular structure that affects you in a different way and it can affect you 2 to 6 times stronger and the effects can last 2 to 6 times longer than smoked flower and what’s really interesting is there is some people in the world whose bodies cannot actually receive 11-Hydroxy for whatever reason.

It’s not psychoactive to them the way it is to other people, and so it is actually true that some people cannot feel edibles and that all of our systems are different; our GI tracts and so yes we’re going to metabolize them differently and we’re going to get different experiences from that, but explaining to bud tenders why it is that you’re going to experience something different allows them to explain to the customers why you need to go slow. It’s actually possible that you could serve a customer an edible and they won’t feel the effects for up to four hours, not two hours and so it’s really important to teach people the specific type of information.

Matthew: Yes. It is amazing how much difference there is from person to person where it can take hours and then they start to take more because they say it’s not working. I’ve seen that trap over and over and then when it does hit they’ve strapped themselves to a rocket ship so that’s definitely something to pay attention too so back to the dispensary. Dispensary owners and operators certainly see the point of sale; see the sales figures coming in every day and they’re wondering what can I do to increase engagement. We talked a little bit about how bud tenders can create an optimal experience but do you feel like there’s a disconnect from just a business owner that’s looking at their point of sales figures and thinking they’re doing good or doing bad. I mean it’s not really measuring engagement in any way or how customers walk away and how they feel.

Max: Right. So I think what you have to look at is the culture of the specific dispensary and so in Colorado we have a thousand dispensaries. We still have more cannabis stores than public schools, Starbucks, and McDonald’s combined. And so there are tons of different types of cultures in the cannabis industry. There are a range; from gangster to hippy people engage in cannabis, and so there are the unbelievable dispensaries that are just like your caring mother who just wants to know you and help you and see that you’re doing well and know your name and develop a relationship with you as a patient.

Those dispensaries exist and unfortunately there’s also dispensaries who see this as nothing but a moneymaking opportunity and don’t necessarily care who you are or if you’re enjoying your products or not. They’re just concerned how much they’re selling to you. And so you can’t really generalize the situation. You just have to understand that there are different types of situations out there but between the two types of cultures of those types of dispensaries that I kind of outlined both the staff members still need more education. They still need to understand more about the product and understand how to evaluate a customer; either a retail customer or a patient.

You have to explain to bud tenders that people who come in to get some relief from there PTSD you really have to start to stay away from Sativas at first, but because people are so different it’s possible that Sativa might be the thing that really helps this PTSD patient which is why it’s so crucial to have the experimentation phase which is something we go over in our textbook and within our curriculum.

Matthew: Let’s talk about your textbook a little bit. What’s the name of it?

Max: So it’s the National Cannabis Industry Textbook and what the Trichome Institute has done is instead of running around trying as hard as possible to fill our classes in the past year and a half, we’ve dedicated all of our time in curriculum development. And so where the Trichome Institute differs from most other cannabis schools is the difference between education and curriculum. And so education is information given to you and whether you absorb that information or not is really depending on are you a good listener, are you a good note taker. For me I’m not a good listener and I’m also not the best note taker and so.

Matthew: What good are you Max?

Max: I know right and so instead of lecturing at you and telling you cannabis information, we’ve taken a textbook and insured that there’s no misinformation by having it reviewed by some of the authorities of cannabis in law, science, and medicine as well as my personal expertise over a decade of working with this plant and then we work with curriculum developers to create workbooks for students that they work in with the teacher while they’re in class and get to take home with them and keep so that they maintain the information. And so we are really trying to bring academia to the cannabis industry.

The reason why I started the Trichome Institute is because of my unbelievable frustration with the lack of cannabis education that exists, and the education that does exist is just unbelievable the amount of misinformation that’s in there and how many cannabis schools that exist that have never verified the information that they’re certifying you in. I would almost go so far to say that there is a hefty amount of cannabis education that currently exists in the country that I would consider criminal based on the idea that it is really expensive and what you’re paying for you could easily Google, and that there are people who are teaching bud tender certifications who have never bud tended before.

There are people who are getting into the cannabis education realm because they can see its potential, but they’ve never used cannabis or grown it or sold it. And so it is something that does take an element of experience across the board. And so what we do is we really put the experience of what it means to be a bud tender in a patient, in a caregiver, in a grower and all of these complicated cannabis products with an element of science and medicine and law and review.

Matthew: That’s great. Now you mentioned it; before we started the interview you mentioned you were lecturing yesterday and giving a class. When you’re in a classroom setting or going over the textbook with students I’m sure there’s a lot of light bulb moments, but is there any specific moment you see over and over again where things kind of seem to come together and make sense for students?

Max: Totally. We see the light bulb go off on a variety of topics. When I explain to bud tenders that edibles and smoked flower are two different drugs it’s like the aha moment. Oh that’s why it feels so different and that’s why it works that way, and then you explain to bud tenders things about dabbing concentrates. I hate to break it to you bud tenders, but the majority of types of dabbing that exist is really dangerous. The product that you’re smoking is dangerous and the way in which you’re making the product is dangerous and the way you’re using the product is dangerous but does it have to be? No.

There are actually safe ways to make concentrates, concentrates that are clean and not dirty, and there are safer ways to dab then other methods out there. And when I explain to bud tenders that what wax is is it’s literally wax from the plant cutin which is the waxy outer layer of plants that protect them from UV lighting, and it’s just a mixture of cannabinoids and actual wax. And if you were to winterize and separate the wax what you would get is literally wax you could make a candle out of. So if you’re someone who dabs wax multiple times a day just imagine dripping hot wet candle wax onto your bowl and just smoking that every day you’re smoking.

You’re getting wax into your lungs and it’s not okay and the thing is is that there’s no science about this. There’s no research about this and people in legislation don’t understand what dabbing is. They don’t even know what’s going on. And so there’s a lot of aha moments where we can explain to people the pros and the cons. We don’t just say everything is terrible because it’s not, I mean sometimes I take a dab when I need to go to sleep at two o’clock in the morning, but how am I dabbing and what am I dabbing and why do you need to know that and why do you need to relate that to your customers to keep people safe. So yeah there’s a variety of aha moments.

Matthew: There’s kind of; there’s a broad spectrum of opinion on the vape pens and what is being used to cut the cannabis oil into a viscus medium that can be used I mean vape pens have a lot of advantages. They are discrete, they’re portable, people like the effects, but there’s a lot of difference of opinion on what should be in this oil when it’s vaped. How do you weigh in here? What do you think about adding certain oils I mean propylene glycol or coconut oil or some other natural oil?

Max: So you definitely don’t want to smoke coconut oil and polyethylene glycol is just confusing because some people say it’s in what do you call that antifreeze or windshield wiper fluid or whatever but at the low levels that it’s in the cannabis it’s acceptable to smoke but the FDA hasn’t really confirmed that. At the end of the day vape pens are very convenient and you can pretty much use them anywhere and you can get a desired intoxication from them. Unfortunately you can’t get high or stoned from them because of the lack of the terpenes that are working synergistically with the cannabinoids. That would be the ‘entourage effect’ which is what makes cannabis variety types unique from each other in the first place.

And so if you take away the uniqueness of the cannabis and just strip it down to its basic psychoactive molecule THC oil which is what these vape pens are you’re intoxicated but you’re not stoned and you’re not high. And so what you’re seeing is a lot of these vape pen technology companies understanding that where the difference in the highs come from is the terpenes and because terpenes are an oil why the hell don’t you just mix the oil in with the THC oil to make it more viscous. You don’t have to have coconut oil. You don’t have to have polyethylene glycol. You can use terpenes and the terpenes will help the high. And so I think what you’ll see in the future is an evolution of vape pens becoming more strain specific and healthier to use.

Matthew: That’s a great idea for a way to evolve the vap pen. I vote yes. Great thought there Max.

Max: Yeah well here let me just give a bunch of startup companies some multimillion dollar ideas. Mersen helps THC Delta-9 specifically cross the blood brain barrier. It’s a lubricant and so if you’re vape pen is 20% THC and there is 0 Mersen in there, maybe you’re only getting 13% of the available THC and then by the way your THC is 50% of what you paid for because the other 50% of the vape pen is polyethylene glycol which literally costs a penny. And so adding Mersen and maybe a little bit of D-Limonene would product an effect that would gauge a stronger high that would be more uplifting and elevating instead of this boring run of the mill THC high and that’s why Marinol is boring and why patients who say that they take yes prescribed medical marijuana. I know that sounds crazy because it’s illegal but for over twenty years we have had Dronabinol (Marinol) on the market, medical marijuana, pharmaceutically prescribed by the FDA. It’s boring because it’s just THC. It’s not; it doesn’t help patients alleviate symptoms the way that raw flower does.

Matthew: So do you use a vape pen ever just even out of convenience or it’s a vanilla to you, you can’t get your desired outcome?

Max: Well you know most vape pens that I try to use they just really scratch my throat and people who know me well; especially my business partner he just looks at me cockeyed. He’s like how the hell do you smoke spliffs full of tobacco and raw flower and you don’t cough once and you hit one little vape pen and you just can’t stop coughing, and I look at him and I’m like dude I don’t know. It’s weird. They really scratch the back of my throat and dry it out and I think it’s just these weird chemicals that are in it and so I really don’t like them.

But I have found a little I guess what you’d call a hole in the wall producer of new vape pen technologies that is utilizing terpenes in a proper way; not in an improper way and using organic flower that has had no pesticides on it because you know remember when you run these plants through these intense CO2 systems that it’s also concentrating whatever pesticides and fungicides you sprayed on the plant and you are ingesting that too, and that when they’re concentrated at those levels they typically become higher than what’s legally acceptable when you just spray them on the plant. You’re allowed to spray chemicals on the plant at this ratio of PPM but there’s been no oversight of what’s to happen when you collect all the plants in the room and condense it into grams of oil and those toxins are also combined and so there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Matthew: Well let’s talk a little bit about Interpening. That’s a word that you’ve coined. Can you describe what that means?

Max: Yeah so Interpening means to interpret terpenes along with the biological bud structure based on original geography. And so through cannabis genomics where we are using DNA to research where cannabis comes from around the world through its massive hybridization in the black market over decades. What I do is I teach people to forget the strain name because they’re either made up, mixed matched, or whatever you’re reading online that informs you about what the strain is is not going to be what you’re going to find in the dispensary due to cannabis morphology and the differences between where you grow it.

There’s a million different reasons why strain names don’t work, and if you pick up a copy of The Hemp Connoisseur a THC magazine which goes nationwide soon. Currently in Colorado in every dispensary. I’ve got a four page spread in the middle of it detailing the history of strain names and solving the problem, and so a wine expert is a sommelier and a beer expert is a cicerone. A cheese expert is a monger and a coffee expert is a cupper and you have tobaccoers and chocolatiers. You have all of this expertise; experts in these fields but there’s no such thing as a cannabis expert and what does being a cannabis expert mean?

Something very fun that I get to deal with on a daily basis is the fact that everyone in Colorado is a cannabis expert. It’s true. They really are; all are. But what we’ve done is we’ve taken the approach of what being a sommelier is and how you evaluate and assess wine by assessing it visually and then you assess the odor and then you assess the taste. And what sommeliers can do is believe it or not these people can take one sip of wine from tens of thousands of bottles you could put their way and they can tell you what zip code on planet Earth it grew and what the weather pattern was that year and probably history about the family who grew that specific grape without even looking at a label.

And what we do is we have classes where we teach people how to interpret terpenes. The things that you can smell that you know gauge a certain effect based on the pharmacology of the specific terpene ratios that are strong. In conjunction with breaking down the structure of the cola to see where it comes from because the landrace genetics are very distinct from each other. And so we look at the most distinct features and then we try to slowly bring them together to see the pattern of hybridization somewhere in the middle.

And so within my classes we have live cannabis samples full of botrytis, powdery mildew, jar rots, spider mites, fungus gnats, unflushed bud, chemical burn, nutrient lock. I mean if there is something wrong with cannabis that could be sold to you on the black market or in a dispensary, we put it in your hands and let you experience what that is while we’re teaching it to you. And then once we’re done with all the gross stuff we move onto the more delectable cannabis that’s sold and we breakdown how to assess the difference between cannabis variety types.

And so what this means is if someone puts information about Golden Goat online and what that strain is, and they’re putting this information online from California, and then you’re accessing Golden Goat in Colorado, it might not be the same plant and chances are it’s not the same, and if it is the same, the phenotypes will change drastically due to the different environments that they’re grown in because environment does affect the plants. It’s evolution. Cannabis evolves like light speed depending on where you put it.

So this is something that people are really starting to appreciate and dispensaries are starting to line up and send their bud tenders to this course which is actually something that surprised me. I thought the public would be more into this than bud tenders, but I think dispensary owners are really seeing the value of what happens when their staff takes a course that really just teaches them so much more about cannabis flower and how to explain it and break that down to the customers. It becomes impressive. When you walk into these dispensaries where every bud tender knows what terpenes and cannabinoids are and they can tell you what they do and how you should utilize them, that’s the difference between the night and day dispensary of people who know what they’re doing and people who don’t.

Matthew: Great point. It’s the trusted advisor role. Do they know something more than you that can help you and that’s a huge advantage and that does translate for the business owner as well. People come back, they have a positive experience, and everybody wins.

Max: Correct.

Matthew: Now there’s one thing you mentioned nutrient lock which is something that I haven’t heard before could you just talk a little bit about what that means?

Max: Yeah so within nutrient lock. So Matt dude have you ever walked into a hydroponic store?

Matthew: You mean while all the supplies are available and lights and things like that?

Max: Yeah.

Matthew: Yeah.

Max: Okay. I mean how many hundreds of different types of chemicals did you see for sale?

Matthew: There was a ton.

Max: It’s just unbelievable.

Matthew: Yeah.

Max: And what these people’s job is is to sell you as much of that stuff as they can. And so when you go into a hydroponic store the guy behind the counter’s job is to make sure that you walk out with six or seven different bottles of nutrients. What’s interesting is a lot of people will look at the N-P-K value, the nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus on the front of the bottle but they don’t really turn the bottle around and look at the percentage of a inert ingredients and what you will find is a lot of these places sell bottles of water; 99% water for a $100 and you just don’t catch it if you don’t read the fine print.

And then another thing is is they’ll tell you to combine all of these nutrient lines together and they’ll sell you some $700 pack of an eight bottle something with a PPM chart and all this stuff, but a lot of people who grow either in their basements and unfortunately in the professional industry don’t really take the time to understand the chemistry and what you have to understand is is these are different properties. Different salts and different molecules that are interacting with each other, and I’m not kidding when I say I’ve actually seen people mix all of their nutrients together outside of water and then pour water into this toxic soup that they’ve just poured all of these different chemicals into to and then they feed their plants this.

And so what happens is is that the salts interact with each other in a negative way and they lock themselves together and when the plant tries to drink this it locks within the plant and it kind of blocks the plants ability to absorb good nutrients and water and all of these other things, and then of course if you don’t flush these salts out of the plants system, it’s just unbelievably salty and that’s the kind of cannabis when you smoke it it hurts and you cough really hard. And so nutrient lock just comes down to the order of operations in which you place your nutrients in the water at the proper temperature pH and part per million before you feed it to your plants.

Matthew: We talked a little bit about your entry level interpreting class and I notice I said it correctly this time Max, not interpening sorry.

Max: Hey thanks man.

Matthew: So what about the second level interpreting class?

Max: Yeah so like cicerones and like sommeliers there are multiple levels of achievement. And so level I and level II education is basically the same. Within level II education you get to work with me a little bit more in-depth and we go over the different molds and properties together more than we would in just a general information of what interpreting is which is kind of level I. And then what we do is we pass out a test and it’s ten jars of cannabis flower and you have to get eight out of ten correct before we’ll consider you a level II interprener and for a lot of people this is really hard and the reason why it’s hard is because interpening just by itself is not easy.

What you’re looking for are very, very tiny differences. You’re looking for not bud that is just absolutely covered in powdery mildew but a flare of PM on a side of the bud or the smell specifically of Botrytis and then being able to pick out the difference between and Indica, Indica hybrid, 50/50 hybrid, Sativa hybrid and a Sativa. And so there’s five quality jars of those variety types and there are five negative qualities and you have to pick them out in the correct order during the test and like I said eight out of ten passes.

People who have been growing for years and years do really well on this test and it’s because they’ve been looking for Botrytis and powdery mildew and bugs and understand the strains and the variety types more than some bud tenders who have been in the industry for three or four years and really know quite a bit about cannabis but haven’t experienced necessarily all of the negative qualities that we teach. And so there is a level III Interpening and we are definitely considering what a level IV would be like and that would basically be an extreme cannabis expert similar to how a level III master sommelier is looked at.

And so these different levels of achievement just basically inform the world that you understand more about cannabis flower than most people do because I haven’t seen any cannabis school out of more than fifty that I’ve researched that provide this level of education or even bring live flower into class and let their students interact with it in the way we do, and we have microscopes out and flashlights and it’s really cool. When you go to our blog and our website at you can see some videos of what class looks like and how this all pans out, but within Colorado there’s the Colorado THC Cup. And the THC Cup I’ll just say that I prefer over other Cups because it’s very legitimate in terms of how they go about evaluating the cannabis and it’s very even in terms of many other things.

But within the THC Cup starting this year the connoisseur judges all must be level II certified interpeners or higher. And so there are the People’s Choice Awards where the public can judge the buds. The public knows quite a bit especially here in Denver, but there are really connoisseur’s in the industry who stand out. And so there are connoisseur judges whose judging has a little bit more weight to it when it comes down to the final answer. And so now you need to be trained and certified in dissecting cannabis flower before you’re allowed to say you know what dissecting cannabis flower is and looks like to make cannabis judging more legitimate.

Matthew: Interesting. So by attending one of your level I or level II classes then do they satisfy the requirements for this type of judge; to be a judge in this type of thing like the THC Cup?

Max: So everyone passed level II. So not everyone gets eight out of ten jars correct on the test but if you don’t, you’re still a Level I Certified Interpener, but because you didn’t prove that you can see and smell the difference between cannabis variety types and detect faulty structures to buds you are not at the level to be a connoisseur judge. We do have people, many people who have passed level II and some people who get ten out of ten jars correct, and those are usually growers who have grown for twenty years but still tell us at the end of the interpening education that we have blown their minds with that much more information we’ve given them than they’ve ever known before and that some of them look at cannabis in a little bit of a new way even though it’s been a part of their life for so long.

So yeah the level II; people who pass the level II test they are eligible. And what we do is we offer people to the cannabis, sorry to the THC Cup who are typically people who pass ten out of ten. But yeah I’m really excited that Interpening is taking off and people are taking cannabis education and judging more seriously and bringing more elements of science and understanding to it.

Matthew: There are a lot of cannabis enthusiast business owners and inspiring entrepreneurs and investors listening right now and by and large they’re much better versed in cannabis ideas than the average person on the street, but are there any stubborn misconceptions among this group that still persists you think that surprises you?

Max: Oh absolutely all day long and that’s why I made the fly comment that everyone is a cannabis expert and it’s just; it’s unbelievable how many people you’ll run into who really believe they know what they’re talking about, and people who have attended two or three cannabis conferences and really feel like they truly get it but have never spent time in a grow room actually growing and understanding how complicated the growing procedure is, and how complicated the curing procedure is, and how complicated the legal aspect is, and how complicated informing patients is with all the cannabis misinformation that’s out there. I still run into people who are even OGs and what I mean by that is some of the original gangsters who’ve been doing this stuff way before it was legal, who have been growing for twenty years and because they figured out a method that worked real well for them twenty years ago they’ve just kept to it and have refused to be open-minded about new information and new sciences and new practices and new technologies that are really helping the industry flourish.

And so anybody who says that they are an expert and that they know everything that there is to know about cannabis, and that they’re the best grower, and they produce the best product those are the people who I don’t trust upfront. I trust growers who are honest about the fact that they’ve grown for a while and there is never a point in the world of cannabis where you can stop learning something new because it’s true and that’s why I love cannabis and why I love educating people about cannabis is because I don’t stop learning new things, and I dedicate two hours a week to studying something new about cannabis and I have; you should see my list of things to research and catch up on. It is pages long.

Matthew: Yeah.

Max: There’s so much more that I need to know. And so people need to really be open-minded and also open-minded to the fact that people in the black market generally have a better understanding of cannabis then some people who have graduated with honors from some Horticulture school. Studied how to grow tomatoes but have never grown cannabis.

Matthew: Right.

Max: And so what you need to do is understand that the kid in dreadlocks with the Bob Marley t-shirt might know way more about growing and curing cannabis flower then the prestigious academic kid who just graduated from some Horticulture school. And so there need to be a blend of those two. Those two people need to hang out with each other and learn from each other and teach other so that we can move cannabis forward because there is still so many in’s and out’s and particular things that people need to know but can only know from experience alone. And so if you’re new to the cannabis industry it is very important that you partner up with someone who has experience or you access quality cannabis education and information from people who have that experience so that they can share it with you so that you can really understand it fully.

Matthew: Now let’s switch gears and talk about live resin. What is live resin and why is it captivating the cannabis community right now?

Max: So the theory of live resin is captivating the cannabis community because the theory has been proven true and there is a lot of product out there that’s called live resin and maybe at one point in time was live resin. But when I go shopping and I ask to see their live resin almost eight out of ten times what I’m looking at I wouldn’t consider to be supreme quality live resin. And so there are lots of terms to try to describe something similar; live sap or holy water typically in an extraction process because terpenes are such fragile volatile compounds they get obliterated almost instantly during the extraction process which is why you don’t really have vape pens that are strain specific.

And so what live resin is it is the science of understanding how to preserve your terpenes within your concentrate. And so wax is nothing but cutin, paraffin, and cannabinoids, and a slab of shatter is literally nothing but cannabinoids and what live resin is is it is the cannabinoids plus all of the specific terpenes captured from the cannabis flower that was extracted with the cannabinoids. It’s not a reintroduction of chemical terpenes like one or two or three of them in with the cannabinoids it’s not that. It’s a whole extraction process and the whole process is done freezing and that’s because terpenes are the most sensitive to heat.

And so the term live resin means that the resin from the Trichome glands is alive. And so a plant starts to decay into necrosis within four hours of being separated from the root system. And so under a four hour period, most likely under a one hour period the plants, the buds, and the sugar trim are all packed into freezers. It’s not flash frozen because it’s not liquid nitrogen. It’s not cryogenically frozen because it’s not a $100,000 cryogenic freezer. It’s freshly frozen. This plant was cut and it was put in the freezer in a fresh state and those Trichomes are frozen and then the extraction process using Butane is done completely freezing and when it’s decarboxylated, not decarboxylated, when it’s purged at the end from the Butane the purging process is done at an extremely low temperature to preserve the terpenes and is also why it’s not decarboxylated.

And so what you get at the end result when you smell a healthy splat of live resin is this sneaky smile creeps across my face with excitement because I feel like I’m smelling the bud right off the bud. The fresh plant as it’s wet and fresh and sticky which is a much different smell than when it’s cured. And so when I smell this live resin it’s kind of like this holy shit experience and you smoke it and it’s just unbelievable. It’s so, so good because it is the whole cannabis flower with all of the entourage effect happening simultaneously in a concentrated extract form. It’s really incredible. Unfortunately as I said when you walk in the dispensaries and they say here’s my live resin, when I look at it and I say I wouldn’t buy that what I mean is the majority of live resin that I see is nucleated. And so most people don’t understand nucleation but it’s not hard to understand I guess once I explain it. And so what nucleation is is it’s a chemical process where moisture strives to bond to a cooler surface in an attempt to condense as a liquid. This is what we call condensation. It’s the same chemical process.

And so if you keep your live resin in the fridge to preserve it which you should and then you take it out and put it on a counter to share with a customer, moisture in the air will naturally attach itself to the surface and when this occurs the water molecules will attach to the residual butane molecules and create a fractured bond within the oil itself kind of holding all the terpenes in and will fracture it into a crystalline state and this is actually the science behind “auto buttering”. And so a lot of dispensaries sell butter and what butter is is it’s basically shatter or resin that has been fractured from either particulates that have destabilized the oils causing the bond to kind of erase. And when I say the bond imagine a cup of water where you fill it up to the point where it should be spilling over and you can obviously tell that the water is above the lip but why does the water not spill over the lip? And it’s because the water molecules are holding on to each other because they want to be bonded.

Matthew: Surface tension right?

Max: Surface tension correct and so when you extract these terpenes which are an oil with the cannabinoids it creates this surface tension in the same way. And what that does is it actually keeps the terpenes plugged into the extract. It maintains it. When water hits the butane and starts to break up that oil bond and it starts to crystalline and that crystal pattern starts to spread throughout the product the auto buttering phase what’s happening is that bond becomes extremely porous and when that happens all of the terpenes are now escaping out of the porous crystal structure rendering the product more cannabinoid than terpene totally defeating the whole purpose of live resin.

And so if you walk into a store looking for that fantastic live resin that I described to you earlier and what they show you is just this gritty, crystalline amber color looking product if you smoke will it get you high? Absolutely and it will probably taste much better than anything else you’ve tried, but if it was in the consistency of honey and more sap like than in a crystalline state it would be better.

Matthew: And so if you’re a business owner somewhere in the cannabis spectrum right now listening and you’re saying hey what Max is saying about live resin is really interesting. I want to do it the right way. How should they think about incorporating live resin into their business I mean what’s the right way to do this?

Max: Well the right way to do it is to understand how to set up the extraction process the correct way because that’s really the key. I mean there are so many operations around the country. I mean more than dozens, hundreds of operations who have multi hundred thousand dollar extraction systems whether they are CO2, Butane, Hexing, Propane but they’re just not set up in a way to product live resin. But they could be and so what that comes down to is working with someone who knows what they’re talking about and that all just kind of comes down to connections and availability for consultations. I am not an extract expert myself, but I know a couple. And so it’s all about kind of who you know and who can help you figure out some of the newer technologies that come onboard. And what’s really fun to watch in the cannabis industry is the race to the next technology. The next cool thing or making the last cool technology better in the first place. And so it’s just fun man I love this industry.

Matthew: You recently told me that all Indica and Sativa edibles are fake. What does that mean?

Max: That means I’m going to piss off a lot of edible companies. That’s what that means. And so it’s the same idea Matt as I described to you about why vape pens kind of suck in the sense that they’re not strain specific due to the extraction process that kind of obliterates fragile terpenes which is what causes strain specificity. And so you’re not only extracting your cannabis oil in a violent way, I mean violent. These freezing, pressurized extraction chambers that just splat the oil it’s an extremely violent process which is why live resin is so unique and it’s very delicate.

And so you’re basically destroying all the terpenes while you’re extracting it and then let’s go one step further and bake them into cookies and throw them in the oven at over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. By the time you get to a temperature that decarboxylizes Delta-9 in the first place you’ve already burned away all your terpenes. And so if you have Golden Goat in its let’s say a term pure Sativa although that’s arguable, but let’s just say it’s pure Sativa and then let’s say you have a pure Indica like a Bubba Kush and they’re both exactly 20% THC. If you smoke them why does one make you high and the other makes you stoned? If it has the same ratio of CBD, THC, CBN all that and the difference is the terpenes like I keep saying.

And so the idea that you can extract these oils in such a violent way and then throw it in an oven to remove some of the toxic properties purging it and then throwing it in another oven to cook a baked good or a gummy or something like that, there’s really no room left for terpenes. They’re gone, and so what you have is you have Delta-9 THC in whatever milligram percentage you have and then that gets converted into a new molecular structure anyways, 11-Hydroxy, after your liver processes it so that it becomes water soluble. So at the end of the day when I say edibles are a different drug I really mean it. I mean it is a different molecular structure. It doesn’t have the entourage effect on it. Someone in one of my classes said well they eat a Sativa edible and they feel like it’s a Sativa. And I’m like well it’s possible I guess if you only harvested Sativas and if you extracted it in a really gentle way and cooked it in a gentle way and purged it in a gentle way to get more of a Sativa dominant effect that might carry through with the 11-Hydroxy.

That’s possible, but I’ve visited and have worked in lots of extract facilities and edible making facilities where they don’t just harvest Indicas or Sativas to make extractions from. They purchase, trim, wholesale from hundreds of dispensaries across the state and combine hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of cannabis variety types into a mixed blend that they then extract from. It is so hybridized. But before they even extract that like when they say its strain specific by the time it’s wrapped and packaged and on the shelf it’s to me kind of just a marketing thing. I don’t feel like it’s legitimate.

If someone could help me understand how I’m wrong in this idea I’d love to learn why but just kind of thinking about it generally and thinking about how the chemistry works; thinking about how the extraction process works and then thinking about my own personal experience to me I think you have a better chance of tricking yourself into thinking that there is a strain specific edible because that’s what you believe you’re taking in. And so yeah I don’t really believe that there are strain specific edibles at least not any that I’ve seen yet.

Matthew: If you were to walk into your favorite dispensary with a listener that has never been in a dispensary before and help them find a strain that’s a fit for them what questions would you ask them and then as they evaluated the strains visually and in terms of fragrance what would you encourage them to look for and notice?

Max: So one of the coolest things about the human body is how the nose knows and I have no idea how the nose knows, but I know that it does. And so it’s this really just unbelievable thing that our body can do where you could blindfold a person and let’s say you put up to their nose feces or vomit or a dead animal carcass. The reaction of the human body will be to jerk backwards, to get away from it and it’s a physical chemical response that tells your entire system that alarms will go off that this is something that you need to stay away from. That’s incredible. It is it’s really cool and then you think about things like fruit that just smell so sweet and so luscious and they’re so good for you. And so when I work with patients in the dispensary I explain to them that your nose knows what your body needs and wants, but everyone is different and the most absolute thing in the cannabis industry is there’s no such thing as an absolute.

And so every class that I teach I ask who here has coffee make them tired and one person will always raise their hand in the room, and I say who here experiences Benadryl makes you hyper and one other person will always raise their hand. I haven’t had it not happen yet. And so what that means is that everyone is different, and so generally Sativa is for the morning, generally Hybrid is for the afternoon, and generally Indica is at night. Generally Indica is for people with PTSD and maybe Sativa is for people with MS, but because you’re different and I don’t know who you are and you’re not that experienced with cannabis here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to utilize my interpening skills and help you guarantee that you’re going to get an Indica, a Hybrid, and a Sativa variety for you to go home and experiment with so that you can gauge for yourself what works best for you. I don’t want to tell you what works best for me. I want to help you find out for yourself what works best for you and then make sure that you keep getting what you want. And so that would be my approach in the dispensary setting.

Matthew: That’s great information. Now are there any particular strains you’re enjoying right now and please if there’s any dispensaries you like there’s a lot of people visiting Denver. What are some that you go to and what strains would you pick up if you were going out today to get something?

Max: Unfortunately as a trainer between so many dispensaries and training people in interpening and being a Cannabis Cup judge and advising people in the cannabis industry I’ve made it a rule for myself to not tell people where I find cannabis to be utterly disgusting and where I find cannabis to be fantastic and delicious and I wish I could explain to people where those things are but I just won’t and so sorry but hopefully we’re actually designing some technologies that will help people understand out of the one thousand dispensaries in Colorado which ones should you go to and why. We’re having interpeners visit some spaces and breaking down some of these dispensaries to help out of towners figures that kind of stuff out. Within strain names; within the theory of interpening strain names aren’t real but within the cannabis community and the OG community strain names are very real.

Matthew: Right.

Max: They do have lineage and they do have history and they do come from specific breeders who deserve credit for the amazing work that they’ve produced and given to the world and so within the very small OG community I respect strains and strain names completely and so therefore some of the Face/Off OG and the Raskal OG that I’ve been experiencing has just been unbelievable and I just cannot get away from my favorite Sativas in the Durban Poison, Golden Goat, and Island Sweet Skunk category. I truly love the more luscious, organic, and smaller garden grows that I find around Denver, Colorado.

Matthew: One of the questions I get multiple times a day is how do I get into the cannabis industry. Do you have any suggestions or advice for listeners looking to break into the industry?

Max: Dude I get that question every day too, all the time. And what I tell people is first of all understand that the cannabis industry isn’t a hundred percent cannabis. Every dispensary that exists needs a lawyer, needs a doctor, needs a professional plumber for the grow and professional electricians and H-VAC and marketing and packaging and advertising and human relations and training staff and I mean it just goes on and on. And the reason why Colorado is booming from the cannabis industry is not the cannabis itself. It’s really all of the people who are finding jobs supporting other jobs and other businesses and other pop-up businesses and picks and shovels businesses and side businesses. It’s unbelievable how much opportunity there is if you’re creative enough to see how to plug yourself into the equation and utilize skills that you have.

And so a lot of times when I explain that to people a light bulb goes off and they’re like oh shit well I’m a marketer and there’s marketing to be done in a brand new industry and it’s like yeah man get to it. There’s so much to do and then there’s other people who are like no, no it’s the cannabis that I really want to do. I want to be a grower or a bud tender or I want to manage a shop or start my own or start my very own cannabis school.

Matthew: Right.

Max: And what I have to say to that is cool. If you don’t have the experience, cannabis is way more complicated than a lot of people think, and so it really does require experience. And so that being said getting legitimate training, legitimate education with legitimate certifications is what matters. The responsible vendor certification that the Trichome Institute provides is certified by the Marijuana Enforcement Division in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment who is reviewed. It’s the government that has reviewed our education that we already had previously reviewed by lawyers, doctors, and scientists. That comes with a healthy amount of experience. And so that is what I mean by serious education. Do not be fooled by getting a bud tender certification online or from a cannabis education road show or a cannabis school that looks good on paper, online, or sounds good but doesn’t really provide you with the information that you really should have or need or paid for.

And so getting trained, getting educated, getting connected and immersing yourself in the industry is really the best way how to do it. Owners, managers of dispensaries will favor bud tenders who come in with the Responsible Vendor Certification, a bud tender certification, an Interpening certification and if you’re a cannabis school out there who’s listening the education and the curriculum that the Trichome Institute has been designing is designed to be turnkey for you to re-educate other people with. If you want to start your very own cannabis school in whatever state you’re in we have done all of the hard work in preparing the curriculum and the education and building these textbooks so that we can help the whole country limit cannabis misinformation by providing this quality type of information and helping to educate more people so that people do get into the industry.

It’s also important to educate doctors. Doctors are terrified to recommend cannabis because they’ve never done it before. They’ve never studied cannabis before. I’m still baffled beyond words that most really intelligent physicians that I know have never heard of the endocannabinoid system. The part of the body that balances all of your health and well being in complete homeostasis I mean the amount of education for the legal system, for legislators, for doctors, scientists are just getting into it is just as crucial as it is for any budtender and so if you want to get into the cannabis industry be serious about it. This is no longer a stoner operation like it was back in 2009 where we were literally buying pounds out of people’s basements and retailing it to patients.

This is a professional industry and it’s being treated as professional and it’s becoming corporate and so there is a lot of room for intelligent, dedicated people who take their job seriously and want to be a part of a flourishing new industry and I think it’s a really great thing and the Trichome Institute can definitely help you get there. You can go to and follow us on our Facebook and Instagram and pretty soon in the next month or so I will be releasing really fun two minute educational videos where I walk around the neighborhood and explain where from earth does powdery mildew just appear from and why or how many other plant species have Trichomes and are they active and what do they do.

And so if you’re interested in getting constant updated free cannabis information sent directly to your inbox please sign up at under our contact page to be updated with more education that’s coming out and when we travel around to different states and provide certifications; all that good stuff.

Matthew: Max thanks so much for coming on CannaInsider and educating us today. This was very, very helpful and I learned a lot.

Max: Cool. Well Matt I can’t thank you enough for having me back on the show. I love your show. I think it’s one of the most; if not the most professional cannabis show, radio show that there is so thank you so much for doing what you do and helping so many people understand cannabis better.

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