Legalization: The Rise of the Cannasseur

When I was in high school (back when kids walked up hill both ways in sub-zero blizzard conditions), pot was pot. You had it or you didn’t.

Way back then, I saw dealers sell buds with glitter, to make the nugs look “cuter”. I’ve seen people pour aromatic oils on buds to make their joints smell like raspberries. I’ve seen weed cut into shapes with cookie cutters, dyed neon purple and packaged in attractive glass jars. It looked better, but it could have given you cancer. Regardless, at the end of the day, the pot was still pot. You had it. Or you didn’t.

Legalization has had some telling effects on those behaviors. We take it for granted that it’s more than just pot now. It’s branded strains. It’s THC and CBD levels. It’s Sativa or Indica. It has effects on your body, and labs are paid handsomely to measure them.

The buds themselves are celebrated- no more glitter, cookie cutters, and neon dyes. Those cheap tricks are part of the old guard, where secrecy and shoulder-tapping were the reigning languages. Today’s smoker understands what they’re inhaling, and how it affects them. Legalization has given rise to the Cannasseur.

Every consumption industry has one- food has its critics, wine has its sommeliers. Even coffee has its Q Graders. In our industry, legalization brings out the Cannasseurs. Is it light and floral? Spicy? Exotic? When should you smoke it? They’ll tell you, because they’re trained to know.

Unsurprisingly, legitimacy begets legitimacy. As the industry emerges from the humility and forced discreetness the past few decades have handed it, those that ushered in its shiny new legal status have also been taken to task for what they’re selling and how they’re selling it. The question of the day has moved away from “is it okay to buy from her?” to “what am I buying from her?” Given the thousands of lab tested strains for sale today, the industry has risen nicely to the occasion. Legalization has encouraged legitimacy, which in turn, encourages more legalization. Thank God.

So back to the Cannasseur. Who are they? The job description’s in flux and there aren’t yet nationally accepted standards or accreditation courses like there are with certified sommeliers. That said, someone who is considered a Cannasseur enjoys the process behind the bud. What strain is it? Where does it come from? What senses does the experience invoke? They don’t just smoke to smoke.

To give you a little taste of history, in the past, only those who grew strictly for themselves were able to play around with different strains and growing conditions. Few individuals bothered to grow illegally without the express intent of selling their crop on the black market. Those rare growers who grew for their own use were interested in how soil content and light exposure affected their crop. These cannabis botanists were hobbyists. They knew their pastime was illegal but they dabbled anyway. They grew their crop covertly, indoors, and away from prying eyes. But the illegality of the market only made their products better. Given the tightly controlled secretive rooms their plants grew in, these hobbyists were able to test incremental changes to their plants’ final outcome without worrying about external environment factors. Through this, they not only discovered new strains, but they were able to adjust the THC content of existing strains to pair best with the flavor each strain brought out.

Today’s Cannasseurs don’t need to go through such great lengths. While they can still have degrees in agriculture and biology, they don’t need to covertly grow their own flights of bud in musty basements. Certification doesn’t yet exist in the industry but there are notable educational institutes where one can learn about cannabis intimately. The Clover Leaf University in Denver is the country’s first cannabis focused university. Offering four certificates in the Cannabis field, the school is approved, licensed, and regulated by the Colorado Department of Education.

For those of us who don’t want to fly out to Denver for three months, there are plenty of organizations strictly aimed at educating the public. The Trichome Institute has established itself as an industry leader by focusing narrowly on education and certification in many cities across the country.

But do you really have to jump through those hoops to be a couch Cannasseur? No. The steps outlined below should be enough to get you started

Delivery

Use a vape pen. Always. It’s the cleanest burn with the least smoke- which masks essential flavors. If you don’t have one, get one.

Process

Make sure that every instrument you use, including your hands, are cleaned. The last thing you want to do is smoke a strain with lingering remnants of previous strains in your piece. Nothing should interfere with what you’re smoking right now. And while we’re on the topic of interfering, touch your buds at little as possible. The resin on buds is where the THC (aka potency) comes from. The last thing you want to do is man-handle your buds and wipe off the precious resin that holds THC.

Take a breath

The point isn’t to smoke as much as you can as fast as you can. The point isn’t to take the biggest hit. Think of wine tasting. If you get wasted after slamming four glasses, your tasting session’s finished. Go spend the rest of your Napa wine tour on the bus. Don’t do that. Prolong the experience. Inhale. Try to take one or two hits per strain and wait it out before trying something new. You want to fully experience what you’re consuming.

Recording

Keep notes of what you liked about each strain. Write down what you noticed about each experience. The more you do this, the better you’ll be with each subsequent connoisseur experience.

Last Step

Clean up. Put the remainder of your buds in air-tight glass jars. Make sure the jars you store your buds in have rubber seals, nothing else is good enough. You don’t need to spend up for a cannabis specific brand, a Kerr jar will do- as long as the rubber seal is in place.

That should be enough to get you moving along. But if it isn’t enough to sate your appetite, I hear the Trichome Institute has rolling admissions. Good luck.

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