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In terms of quantity, the cannabis industry is exploding in growth. Due to the expansion of the seeds market, hundreds of cannabis strains are now available for the consumer to purchase. Many new strains are even being created for specific ailments and diseases. But with so much growth, who moderates the quality control of everyone’s favorite green flower? Enter cannabis sommeliers and budtenders; two of the most critical roles in the cannabis industry.
Knowledge seekers, unite! In locations around the world where recreational cannabis use is permitted, this new trend of cannabis driven knowledge is spreading like wildfire to those who love all things cannabis.
Who are these very important cannabis experts? Most experts have been around the industry for a very long time – long before the times of legalization. They have a hands on experience in the sector, meaning that they already have a record in cultivating cannabis and the several parameters that can play a role in the final product. Most of these people love growing and have a strong eye and attention for detail; they know what the plant needs and how to properly care of it.
The industry needs people with sharp senses, people who can distinguish qualities with their nose, their eyes, with their touch; and of course people who are able to analyze the different types of high that every strain hides. Every market has its connoisseurs, like the beer industry has the cicerones. The same way a wine sommelier takes a sip of wine and picks the distinct flavors of dried cherries or earthy fragrances, the cannabis expert follows a methodology.
The type of methodology differentiates the budtenders from the sommeliers. While many of the budtenders work in shops where cannabis is sold legally, they do not have the advanced skills and the knowledge required to answer more than frequently asked questions. Often, they are only familiar with some of the strains and their effects, passing their own experience to their customers.
Oftentimes, budtenders inform the public on the properties of each strain (like the potency of cannabis edibles and their concentrates). Budtenders do a great job of getting the product to the public; but when you want to learn something more specific, pertaining to the art and science of cannabis, you need to find a sommeliers.
The Best of the Best: Sommeliers
As the market grows, consumers demand more useful information on the available products. The traditional “all weed is the same” mindset does not seem to work anymore – at least for experienced users. Now that the cannabis market has integrated itself in the world of legality, we need to create measurable qualities.
Sommeliers play more of an intellectual role in the cannabis industry. It is important to note that they are not sellers. They have to know the history of the strains and the specifics of cannabis crossbreeding. They can write reviews in magazines and they inform the people providing updates on new strains and practices. As we can see in the cannabis expos worldwide, every day new cannabis strains are released to market and need to be reviewed and tested.
What Do Sommeliers Do?
Cannabis connoisseurs are the critics we want and need to ensure quality control. They are the ones responsible for checking the structure and ripeness, seeing if the plant is healthy (and without insects), ensuring the moisture and the density are are up to standard ( the "squeeze factor"), and so on and so forth – much like any other naturally produced product. Specifically, sommeliers observe the overall appearance of the plant, the hairs, and its trichomes. They smell and sense the flowers' essential oils and aromas like citrus, pine and pepper. They can recognize the Terpenes – organic compounds responsible for the cannabis' perfume.
Needless to say, the line between sommeliers and budtenders seem blurry to those who aren’t familiar with the two roles. They are both essential to have in the ever growing cannabis industry. Cannabis safety, for both of these roles, is at the forefront of their “job descriptions” per say. They both inform the masses on cannabis education, and each contribute their own roles to that end goal.
Even within the categories of budtender and sommelier, you have incredibly distinct and specific niches. For example, the edible’s market demands different skills than the straight “flower” market does.
For those who would like to improve their knowledge on budtending and becoming a sommelier, there are several courses and certifications available offered by the Cannabis Training Institute, Trichomes institute, Cannabis Training University and others.
As long as the market is mature and all of the people in charge of identifying the qualities of all cannabis products continue to grow, consumer education will rise. As with cuppers from the coffee industry, the cannabis experts are professional observers and gate-keepers of the tastes and the aromas of everyone’s favorite green flower. They will continue to play an essential role in bridging the consumer to the cannabis product.