On the same principle as the wine sommelier, the cannabis sommelier learns to recognize the different cannabis species and their particularities, so that he can advise consumers as well as producers or other stakeholders in this industry.
In the main room of a Vancouver office, six men and six women listen attentively to Adolfo Gonzalez, trainer and co-founder of CannaReps. First, he explains the origins of cannabis and details the ancestral culture associated with the plant from the Middle East, Afghanistan, and neighboring countries.
This native Mexican knows this culture well: he immigrated to Canada in the wake of the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes in 2001 because he used it to calm his constant anxiety attacks.
It was with this in mind that he founded CannaReps, with Enid Chen, and began giving this training as a sommelier in cannabis. His expertise was first developed on marijuana for medicinal purposes, as did the majority of Canadian experts in the field.
The training includes a theoretical component so that the student learns the basics of cannabis: the regions of origin of the plant, its anatomy, thus the differences between sativa cannabis – a slender plant with thinner leaves -, indica cannabis – a bushy plant with denser leaves – and hybrid cannabis.
We also learn about the biochemical composition of each species, its THC, CBD content, “the yin and yang of cannabis,” according to Adolfo Gonzalez, and the involved terpenes – there are over 300 in this plant.
Adolfo Gonzalez also explains how Afghan, Haze, and Kush differ in smell, shape, moisture content, cut, etc. He also explain the different methods of extracting and filtering, the various cannabis products now available on the Canadian market, while stressing the need for the right dosage and the dangers associated with overdose and overuse.
The training is not only theoretical: it is also practical. Students regularly put their noses in Death Buddha, Wifi OG, Sweet Skunk to learn to recognize the smell and shape. They also learn to dissect a dish to learn its anatomy and specificities and to examine it under a microscope to measure its degree of maturity.
The role of the sommelier
In short, just like wine, cannabis has its “terroirs” and ” varieties,” its ” appellations,” its ” flavors,” its ” nose.”
And just like the wine lover, who will define if he prefers chardonnay over sauvignon or pinot noir over cabernet sauvignon, the marijuana consumer will find that this or that kind of cannabis, that kind of product are among his favorites. And this is where a cannabis sommelier can give valuable advice.