CannaProfile: Max Montrose and the Trichome Institute

Max Montrose and the Trichome Institute

By Mat Lee

Max Montrose is the founder and president of the Trichome Institute, an educational organization based in Colorado that is dedicated to education and responsible legislation.

A lot of misinformation, internet lore and legend is associated with cannabis. The Trichome Institute is raising the bar regarding cannabis curriculum by relying on information that has been vetted and holds up to the rigors of the scientific method. Max says that knowing what is true and what is false requires getting information straight from the source. Who are the experts in the fields you are interested in? What are they writing? That’s the material to read, not the opinion of a random person on a cannabis message forum.

The Trichome Institute is looking to the future with course material that is carefully researched, medically supported, scientifically proven and reviewed by a team of lawyers to ensure that it is legally accurate. The Institute currently offers in-house classes at the Colorado Free University campus. They plan to offer online classes soon, and are currently developing an advanced online learning system so people everywhere can benefit from this knowledge.

The three classes currently offered by the Trichome Institute are Responsible Vendor Training, Cannabis Product Sales and Training, and Interpening.

Responsible Vendor Trainings and Certification is split into three sections, and is licensed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Marijuana Enforcement Division. Its target audience is licensed cannabis businesses and their employees.

Section 1, Laws Governing Dispensaries, covers enforcement agencies, inspections, recordkeeping, unlawful acts, criminal liability, health and safety standards, and more.

Section 2 addresses ID Verification and shows how to establish ID ownership and avoid making mistakes when checking ID, how best to avoid selling cannabis to minors, and the ins and outs of patient customer privacy.

The third section addresses the effect of cannabis on the body, teaching students how to make a responsible sale, identify signs of impairment, deal with impaired customers, assess cannabis tolerance and experience, and it also addresses methods of consumption, duration and effect of different consumption methods.

Upon completion of the Responsible Vendor class, the student receives the Trichome Institute’s Responsible Vendor Student Workbook and a personalized wallet card showing that she is Responsible Vendor-certified. In addition, the participating  dispensary receives a framed certification and window decals that can be displayed.

For more information, go to for a list of upcoming classes. The cost per class is $149, or $99, if five or more people are attending from your group. Pre-registration is recommended, because classes tend to fill up quickly. Classes are held at the Colorado Free University, 7653 E. 1st Place, Denver CO 80230. A class is planned for Boulder, Colorado, but as of the time of this writing, dates had not been announced.

Cannabis Product and Sales Training Certification covers consumer tolerance, smoking vs. vaping cannabis flower, edibles, hash and concentrates, sublingual, transdermal and topical, product weights and conversions and customer service. The target audience for this class is budtenders, who are the last line of defense for educating customers.

The Cannabis Products and Sales training textbook is full of certified medical science references to help salespeople become knowledgeable on cannabis topics so they can confidently and intelligently explain to customers the current state of cannabis science.

Interpening. Interpening is described by the Trichome Institute as the art of the cannabis sommelier: the science of dissecting cannabis flower for quality control and variety type designation. The word is a combination of the words “interpret” and “terpene.” The concept is that a person can identify properties of cannabis by smelling. The Trichome Institute has focused on interpening since 2009. The class is taught in two levels. Level one is exactly that: the core foundation of understanding addresses the Interpening methodology. This class can be taken in person or online, and focuses on development of a solid understanding of cannabis quality, terpenes, cannabis anatomy, geographical influence, strain names and more.

Level two uses a more hands-on approach and must be taken in person. Students are exposed to over 50 different strain samples of cannabis, with interpener skills then tested with an exam, using sight and smell. A minimum  score of at least eight out of 10 is required to pass. Level three focuses on concentrates and other cannabis products. The exam is timed and requires a score of nine or better to pass. After passing the physical exam, students must also pass a written and oral exam on cannabis horticulture, history, chemistry, cannabis anatomy, and strain genetics.

Level four is offered only by invitation and requires a high level of knowledge.

While the main audience for these classes is those in the cannabis industry, people in healthcare, government and even the general public can benefit.

Max and his team at the Trichome Institute also have a program called the TAG System. TAG stands for Trichome Assurance Grading. For more information about TAG, go to or listen the interview with Max on episode 183 of the Hot Box (


Episode 183 of the Hot Box, interview with Max Montrose

Trichome Institute homepage and other pertinent links

Interpening introduction