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The Rise of the Ganja Sommelier

Like a wine sommelier, a good ganja somm knows how to pair customers and cannabis products.

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Yes, the green rush is upon us and with it, a new profession: The Ganja Sommelier. Like the wine expert at an upscale restaurant who walks you through the night’s best food and wine pairings, the ganja sommelier has the expertise and knowledge to guide you towards the ultimate cannabis experience.

Heath Korvola | Getty Images

Highly-trained and knowledgeable about cannabis history, genetics, cultivation, manufacturing, appellations, consumption, terpenes, and effects, the ganja sommelier is the budtender’s lucky uncle.

Related: She Was a Caterer. Now She's a Budtender.

What a ganja sommelier does 

Whether touring the fields, walking the labs, or looping the buds, the ganja sommelier not only knows where the flower came from, but she knows the type of plant and structure, the quality of the finished product, the genetic lineage and history of the strain, the growing conditions and methods used, the terpene profile, and, most importantly, the effect of the particular product. Think of the ganja somm as the Wiki of weed.  

Need cannabis to sleep? A low dose, indica edible like The Dream Blend from Kin slips might be perfect.  Pain relief for a sore tennis elbow? Try Elixicure’s CBD roll on. Ready to hit the town and rock the party all night? How about an Island Sweet Skunk (sativa) cartridge from Legion of Bloom.

Sure, being a cannabis sommelier and master curator has its advantages--who wouldn’t enjoy slipping into a nice hot bath to try out the latest Papa and Barkley bath soak? Or scheduling a late night Ganja Glide (cannabis-infused lube) testing session? Or rolling a spliff of Tangie Kush for an energizing, morning walk in the park?  

But the jobs also comes with much responsibility. Like a wine sommelier, a ganja somm doesn't just curate great cannabis products, he also pairs great cannabis with a specific consumer. Different products have widely different effects on people, and a good ganja sommelier knows how to match the right products with the right people.

The word “Ganja” comes from Sanskrit (ancient India), not from the Rastafarianism/Jamaica as commonly mistaken. This reminds us that cannabis is an ancient, sacred plant medicine. Although a ganja somm hardly thinks of himself as a modern-day shaman, he respects the great responsibility in educating consumers and recommending cannabis products.

With more and more companies and products joining the green rush, it’s becoming more important to find an expert to weed through the chaff. The days of plastic-wrapped Rice Krispy treats with smiley-faced stickers are long gone, and the ganja somm is there to serve in pairing the best cannabis products for the experience desired. 

Related: 9 Business Ideas for People Looking to Cash in on the Marijuana Boom  

What a ganja sommelier looks for

All ganja sommeliers are different, with varying tastes and preferences. Here’s what the ganja somms at Lucky Box Club look for:

  • Quality. To find out if the product is up to par, we ask a few key questions: What are the lab test results? Does it contain any pesticides? Is it a premium level of production? What process is the manufacturer using? Is it organic? How does it taste? What is the effect and experience of the product?
  • Story. The product must have a pedigree. What’s the story behind the brand? Is it a family recipe? A tried and true technique honed over years of experience? A small craft producer? Who are the people behind the brand and the product and what is their vision with the product? Are they an ethical company?  
  • Presentation. What is the visual aesthetic of the product? How does it look? What does the branding and packaging say about the product? How does it feel in your hands? How do you use it?  Is it appealing? What is the experience?
  • Magic. We use this word to describe the X-factor. Whether it’s innovation, uniqueness, or simply the wow factor, we look for something special in our products that can’t always be described by words.  It could be a new design, a unique strain, or an awesome story, the X-factor is something we look for in all our brands.

Related: How To Convince Cannabis Investors to Give You Money

For information on becoming a Ganja Somm, check out: The Trichome Institute