Interpening: Cannabis Sommelier Certification

Professional Interpening Course Overview

[in-terp-en-ing], verb.

The Art and Science of the Cannabis Sommelier: evaluating flower for total quality control, psychotropic effects, and variety type designation.

Interpening is important for industry professionals and consumers due to the fact that speciation, strain names, and lab testing do not provide information about the quality or the effects of cannabis.

Depending on individual state regulations, a lab’s Certificate of Analysis for cannabis flower may test for some or all of the following: cannabinoids, terpenes, pesticides, heavy metals, mycotoxins, and microbials. However, labs do not test for specific molds and insects that infest cannabis, nor do they test for the overall quality from flower to flower.

Considering the two most important things to know before purchasing and consuming cannabis are the quality of the product and how it will make you feel, you need to have the ability to determine this on your own since lab tests don’t include this information. The Professional Interpening course will provide you with the knowledge and skillset so that you are able to determine the quality and effects of cannabis flower, based on physical and aromatic evaluation, regardless of the strain name, speciation category, or brand.

Course Topics

Interpening was inspired by the world of wine classification. As the cannabis industry develops, many elements of wine classification, like appellations, terroir, and typicity will carry over into cannabis—because flower from an outdoor farm in California is completely different from flower produced in a massive indoor operation in Colorado.

The categorization and naming of cannabis varieties and strains is misleading and inconsistent, due mainly to the gradual transition from black to legal markets. We explain why “Indica” and “Sativa” are inaccurate designations, and we unravel the strain name dilemma: is your Blue Dream really Blue Dream? 

Professor of Southwest Studies, Santiago Guerra, joins us to uncover the history of this loaded word, from its origins in indigenous resistance to colonial oppression, through its use in mid twentieth-century racist government propaganda, to its restoration as a word full of rich history and culture.

Cola, bud, flower, nug, inflorescence… what’s the difference? We’ll give you a close-up look at the cannabis plant’s parts and help you identify mature trichomes—which is where the chemistry we care about happens.

It’s the chemistry that makes this plant so amazing and its effects and benefits so diverse! Over 100 cannabinoids, 150 terpenes, and 20 flavonoids have been identified in cannabis, and there are huge variations across strains. We’ll give you a grasp of the most common compounds that create the spectrum of effects from sedative to stimulating as well as a taste of the medicinal possibilities ahead as more research opens up.

If you’ve ever smoked cannabis, you’ve also smoked botrytis, powdery mildew, jar rot, spider mites, fungus gnats, excess synthetic nutrients, and probably a handful of hair too! And sometimes flower without any of those issues is still really bad. This is the section you’ll wish you never knew about!

Sure, everyone knows the cannabis aroma—it’s dank! But in the art and science of interpening, we analyze the nuances of aroma and use the data the nose knows to evaluate flower quality and determine its likely effects. Here we dive into how your olfactory system and trigeminal nerve work together in interpreting terpenes.

Interpening is a methodology for assessing flower quality and predicting how it will affect you. We’ll teach you how to identify all of the physical and aromatic characteristics that determine where the flower falls on the spectrum of effects from sedative to stimulating.

Feature Reviews


An Interpener, pronounced in-terp-en-er, is a cannabis sommelier. A sommelier is a highly respected wine expert, which is where the term was borrowed from. There are expert titles for many industries. A nose is a fragrance expert. A monger works for both fish and cheese. A cicerone is a beer expert. A cupper is a coffee expert. As an interpener, you should have the same level of knowledge as other industry professionals.
Interpening is a combination of the words interpreting and terpenes. Trichome Institute has trained and certified over 4,000 Interpeners worldwide.
Generally speaking, there are three types of individuals that earn a certification. The first are those who want to understand how to identify cannabis quality for their own personal and safe consumption. The second includes budtenders and other dispensary employees who wish to have a deep understanding of cannabis flower history, quality, effects, and other in-depth topics so that they are best able to educate their customers. The third type of Interpener includes those who aren’t working directly with customers but are still involved with flower touch-points such as cultivation, extraction, distribution, buying, and sourcing. 
Trichome Institute is currently working with various partners, including Texas A&M and Abstrax, on research projects to create a publicly available cannabis grading platform called TAG, Trichome Assurance Grading. We hope to be hiring TAG Technicians soon, which will be the fourth type of Interpener!

At this time there are two interpening courses. The first is the Professional Interpening course which is 100% online and is a prerequisite to the Advanced Interpening course. Advanced Interpening is an in-person training course that will be instructed by the founder of Trichome Institue, Max Montrose. The next available Advanced Interpening course will happen in late 2022 in the Pacific Northwest. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to receive updates on the course.

The course is designed to learn at your own pace. 🙌

The video lessons are prerecorded! You can take as long you need. You are allowed 3 attempts on the exam to earn your certification. We want to help you succeed and get the most out of your Trichome education.

Success Tip: If you don’t pass the exam on the first go around, we recommend re-watching the videos. Take notes!

Optional Interpening Book & Tools

Course Details
Course Instructors

Max Montrose

Chef Brandon Allen