A Guide to the Internet's Top Cannabis Sommelier Courses
Increase your cannabis IQ at one of these online schools.
Some of the newer consumers may not remember this, but in the years before the medical marijuana explosion, the idea of being a cannabis connoisseur was out of reach for most smokers. You smoked whatever you got. And by and large, you smoked — there wasn’t much in the way of edibles or any sort of concentrate outside of hash. The advent of legalization, however, means you have more buds, more products and more choices. This has given rise not only to the branding power of festivals such as the High Times Cannabis Cup and the Northern California Emerald Cup, but also to a new breed of cannabis sommeliers that can guide you to the sort of bud you’ve been dreaming about. Even if you’ve never consumed the plant in your life, this special someone can guide you to the product you’re looking for, if you tell them what you want to feel.
However, if this sounds like your next career path, you may have to pick and choose. Because there’s more than just one type of sommelier category, and they’re all duking it out to set the standards for the cannabis culture and industry as a whole. We’ve assembled a brief collection of the bigger players in the space, and what they have to offer. After all, if you want to take your weed snobbery to the next level, a certification can’t hurt.
Geared towards current or aspiring cannabis professionals, this hybrid program educates on the science, history, cultivation, botany and genetics of the cannabis plant and all of its assorted products, from concentrates to edibles. These courses, co-created by cannabis education company Green Flower Media, are taught by a who’s who of experts whose accomplishments built the modern California cannabis industry: breeder/cultivator Mel Frank, the late master hashishim Frenchy Cannoli, former UC-Berkeley lecturer Dr. Amanda Reiman and Ganjier founder Derek Gilman being amongst them. After completing the course, students schedule a two-day trip to the Ganjier base in Humboldt County (held every April and October) to complete their training and take their in-person final exam. This includes a service role play component where students guide a person towards the products they want, as well as a blindfolded assessment of a given cannabis flower strain. After passing, graduates are awarded a Certified Ganjier certification, and receive a Ganjier tool kit which includes access to the program’s Systematic Assessment Protocol and a jeweler’s loupe.
Cost: $2,997 (not including travel and room/board costs for the in-person training)
Based in Colorado, the Trichome Institute was founded by Max Montrose, a former medical cannabis purchasing agent who teamed up with High Times Top Cannabis Chef Brandon Allen to create a slew of online courses (the institute went fully virtual in 2020). In addition to offering class courses on cannabis cooking, they also offer consumer education as well. However, their most significant offering is certification for “interpeners” — their own proprietary portmanteau for cannabis sommelier (“interpreter” + “terpene”). In this course, students learn how to assess the cannabis flower for specific biomarkers of quality, including aromatics, physical characteristics and strain names. The Trichome Industry is also building out a Trichome Assurance Grading (TAG) system, for which certified TAG technicians will quantify and grade cannabis. Course materials include a book, a “Weed Wheel” and loop which guides interpreners on subjective effects of cannabis according to appearance and smell as well as an aromatic training kit of isolated terpenes to train yourself on smell.
Cost: $144.42-173.42 (420 Bundle of all courses and interprening items for $595 through April, 2022)
Based in Canada, Canna Reps aims its Cannabis Sommelier certification (their word for it — no other proprietary copyrighted term exists for it) for both professionals and passionate consumers alike. Students can access its eight hours of online course materials “forever,” and the program also includes live “Study Hall” sessions, which includes bonus content, conversation about course material and updates on what’s new in the cannabis industry. Companies such as Aurora, HEXO and PAX Labs have recognized its training, and like the Trichome Institute, it also offers group training rates for businesses.
There are two Cannabis Sommelier training courses. Course I goes into the history, biochemistry and extraction methods surrounding the plant as well as QA and tips for guiding people towards the flower or product they want. Course II digs deeper into the plant’s chemistry and genetics to tease out the field’s many poly-hybrids. In-person classes are taught various times of the year in Toronto and Edmonton.
Cost: $599-$699 for courses I and II.