What’s in Your Stash? Max Montrose: Founder of the Trichome Institute

When you become the stash, and the stash becomes you.
What’s in Your Stash? Max Montrose: Founder of the Trichome Institute
Courtesy of Max Montrose

You might say that Max Montrose has a nose for weed. That his lineage, handed down from beneath his very DNA, in cahoots with spirits of cannabis past, placed him in Denver, Colorado, then waited as the state and the man literally grew into their own.

“The cannabis industry and I grew up together,” Montrose said from his home in Denver, Colorado. “I first started using cannabis from the black market in high school – there was no industry; it was about as mature as I was. While I was in college, the industry medicalized, decriminalized, then we went into legalization and everything became more professional – all of this, literally in my own back yard – and I participated as much as I observed.”

Montrose was a protesting, sign-carrying activist for the plant starting in high school. Beginning in 2007, once in college, he said his only focus was on cannabis.

“College, for me, was a funny situation,” he continued. “I’m a liberal, Jewish, pot-head and went to a very Catholic, Jesuit university in the state of Colorado – Regis University. At Regis, they make you take two classes on every subject – math, science, history. The only thing I studied in any subject, and the focus of most all of my papers, was cannabis.”

Naturalist’s Bachelor’s in Cannabis

Montrose earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology, while working across the street from the university at a dispensary, with his sights firmly set on a career in cannabis. But not just any career. In his case, he let his nose lead him.

“I’ve been asked many times if I’m on the Autism Spectrum,” he shared. “I’ve also been asked more than once if I’m a Super Taster – specifically in terms of identifying good weed by scent. I went to very expensive, special schools because of my learning differences – which are severe dyslexia, ADD, psychomotor agitation – basically, the inability to turn your brain off. I was highly tested.”

According to SkillsYouNeed.com, human behavior specialist Scott Black went one step further with Harvard professor Howard Gardener’s research on learning styles, creating a measured way to determine a person’s overall learning style. Of the categories defined are: Intra & Inter-personal, Logical or Mathematical, Visual or Spatial, Kinesthetic, Musical or Rhythmic, Linguistic, and Montrose’s learning style, the Naturalist. 

“Turns out I’m one of the rarest learning types,” he explained. “I’m a naturalistic learner; I learn best by relating to nature. At a very young age I took talking and relating to plants one step further, and it led me right to one of my favorite plants, cannabis.”

As co-founder of the Trichome Institute, Montrose and team focus, not on cultivar types or whether a plant is indica or sativa, but on interpening, as stated on its website, “The art and science of the Cannabis Sommelier: evaluating flower for total equality control, psychotropic effects, and a variety type designation.”

The institute offers an intensive in-house course on interpening, a comprehensive book and an interpening tool kit. 

“I’m most interested in changing my own alchemy – the process of taking something in some form and alchemically changing your mind – your mood, attitude – your world view; changing your perception of reality. You can’t say you are the same person when you are under the influence – not just THC, but any mind-expanding plant from the natural world.”

Montrose said the cannabis plant was the first plant that spoke to him at a young age, with its fragrance – which is where the medicinal and psychotropic compounds lie; its tastes, and its ability to change one’s alchemy, allowing him to focus on his purpose in life.

Courtesy of Max Montrose

A Living, Breathing Stash

Montrose is a walking, talking testament to his love of, and scientific interest in, plants that change alchemy in humans, with dozens of his beloved entheogen type specimens tattooed on his body. 

“I’m Max from Where the Wild Things Are,” he laughed. “Every tattoo on my body is a drug, or an entheogen – coffee, Ayahausca, beer… and I love reptiles, amphibians. One of my first pets was an Emu. When I was a teenager, after alchemizing with cannabis, I could put myself on that little boat in my mind, leave my parents and my home behind, and sail off to a different world – and I did, often.”

His backyard greenhouse mirrors the plants on his legs with “sacred plants” everywhere, collected from his travels. 

“I make my own beer with hops I grow,” he said. “Hops are a cousin to cannabis. One I’m growing now I found while rock climbing in a canyon, hanging over a cliff – I said, ‘gee, isn’t that a wild, indigenous hop?’ I pulled the rhizome from a crevasse, stuck it in my pack and it’s now growing in my backyard, doing nicely.” 

The Max of Where the Wild Things Are meets The Science Guy, has laid his stash out on his patio for an impromptu photo op. Not concerned with the simplicity of the display.

“My stash is pretty humble,” he said of the spread. “I added the fresh leaves to represent the NLM and BLM type plants I grow. You can’t call them sativa or indica, none of that is real. They are ‘Narrow Leaf Marijuana,’ and ‘Broad Leaf Marijuana’ plants. I don’t believe in strains, I believe in interpening.”

Interpening, Montrose said, is the only way to break down the myriad compounds that make up the full spectrum of said plant. Is it full of fragrant phyto-compounds? Is it heavy on certain terpenes, you can both smell, yet feel with separate cranial nerves? This is what really determine effect – not just the level of THC, which most lab tests focus on.

Courtesy of Max Montrose

Montrose’s stash – his flower and the tools he uses – put the focus on the lure of the flavor, the seductiveness of scent. 

The jar he uses to hold flower for smoking is made by Miron Glass, protecting against harmful effects of light, increasing shelf life, and prolonging potency. Miron has been around since 1995, making its first delivery of violet glass to Spirulina International, for storing the fragile spirulina algae.

“This jar is high-end technology that preserves the herbal material better than anything else, including humidors and two-way humidity packs,” he said. “We sell them on the Trichome Institute website, and is included in the Interpening Tool Kit.

The flower in the jar was grown by Montrose, and the oil in the pen was made from flower he grew; preferring a distillate to hash oil for effect, due to his “higher tolerance.”

Grav Labs is his go-to for glass, with the company sponsoring his top certified Interpening Team for judging, via a full set of glass at each competition they work. A proud moment came when the CEO hand-delivered the now infamous Menorah bong to him the first night of Hanukkah. 

“My jewelers Loupe is custom, with my name engraved,” he said. “It has two lights, including UV. Both are also part of the Interpening Tool Kit. A grinder is a must, the lighters are in-house; and I use a Debowler and pokes to open my glass. I only use Raw papers! I love everything about the company and have been a huge advocate for years.”

The answer to the question, what’s in Max Montrose’s stash, is not an easy one to answer. His stash is the world’s natural grow room; with his bounty wherever his trusty nose will lead him.

“If there was a recipe created for who I am and this life I’m leading, the chef couldn’t have whipped up a more perfect combination,” he surmised. “For a guy who can smell and taste ten times greater than the average human, I’m grateful my super powers put me squarely in the right place at the right time. I was put here on this planet to do this work. My stash is my life.

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