I’m Axel and I’m from the southwest of France. I moved to Canada in January 2020 because I wanted to explore the world, learn English, and find out what I wanted to do in my life. Another factor that influenced my choice: legal cannabis.
I first moved to Toronto and after a few months of enjoying the “big city life”, my passion for Cannabis was growing leaps and bounds. It was such an exciting moment to be able to buy cannabis legally and know the exact name of what I was smoking and know the different cannabinoid and terpene percentages. Where I come from, cannabis remains illegal and weed is just named weed (« oui’d ») and it was really hard to find any information about it beyond that. Sometimes if I was lucky, my connection would give me a name (it was mostly AK47, Amnesia Haze, Lemon Haze, and sometimes skunk) but there was no way for me to verify that these names actually meant anything, and nobody I knew had the knowledge and skills to determine much from the products I was getting.
Getting into the Industry
It’s during the COVID-19 lockdown that I realized that I wanted to put my passion for cannabis first and that when I made the choice to enter the cannabis industry.
As someone with no professional experience in cannabis, I thought to myself: how could I become a successful candidate? How can I set myself apart from the competition? How can I become someone that companies want?
The answer was simple and clear for me: I needed education and training.
I started to go online to take a look at the existing courses available on the market.
After a quick review of all the different options, a specific course piqued my interest: the Cannabis Sommelier course by CannaReps. As someone from a wine area in France (South of Bordeaux) the word sommelier got my attention. I started to take a deeper look at the course and compared content with others. After a few days of reflection, my choice was made. I wanted to become a Cannabis Sommelier!
To me, CannaReps offered the course with the most complete content, covering various areas from science to culture and product knowledge. Beyond that, I loved that they were building a community of students with the opportunity to connect during the study Hall Session every two weeks (now held weekly!). I wanted to be part of it, because it was clear to me that without community and hands-on practice, my learning could only go so far.
I started my journey with the Cannabis Sommelier Online course, and I will never look back.
During my life, between my studies and my old jobs, I have experienced a ton of boring online training (E-learning, videos, tutorial…) and I have to say that CannaReps is the complete opposite.
When you sign up for the course, the company is sending you a Cannabis Sommelier kit as well as a list of cultivars that you need to acquire to fully experience the training. During the course, many hands-on activities are using the tools provided in the sommelier kit.
There is no time restriction, so you can follow the course at your own pace and come back to the content as many times as you want. It allows you to truly understand and digest all the information delivered by the course.
I found the content nicely organized and the flow is super smooth, it was for me a wonderful learning experience. It always feels great to learn something new that you find valuable. I realized that I had a lot of misconceptions about cannabis and it opened my eyes to many subjects that I had previously not even considered as being that relevant.
I loved “trust your nose and palate” and degusting cannabis concepts, which anyone from French culture will highly resonate with. You have to use your gustatory and olfactory senses to truly understand cannabis, that’s a fact!
After completing the training I was feeling more confident about my understanding of cannabis and the way to communicate with others about it. I felt that the training provided me the best practices to develop, with time and experience, to become an expert. The two educators, Julie and Adolfo are both very passionate, knowledgeable and they really know how to pass on that authentic love for what they do.
A huge advantage of this course is the live session happening every week. During those sessions, you have the opportunity to connect with the CannaReps student community as well as the educators. Those sessions are always incredibly insightful and a great opportunity to engage with people from the industry.
After some time in Toronto, I decided to move to Vancouver to start my professional journey into the Cannabis industry.
The job search was made much easier thanks to CannaReps reputation and the knowledge they provided me. I was feeling very confident during the interviews because I knew I was qualified. I received an offer in most of my applications, which gave me a lot of options. On my very first job in the industry, I ended up working as a retail supervisor!
Everything I learned during the training was so helpful when behind the counter. It was much easier to understand and connect with the consumer to provide them with the best experience and guidance. I honestly feel that the skills and prestige gained by becoming a certified Cannabis Sommelier are a real game changer when interacting with clients. It helps me build trust and feel that they are listening to me and are more inclined to try my recommendations.
The In-person experience
After a few months in Vancouver, I had the chance to attend the in-person course (level 1 and 2). The in-person experience was a real treat to me. I already knew the content (at least for level1) but the experience was something else. It was more real, interactive, and connected. You have the opportunity to engage with other passionate people, all with different stories. You also have the opportunity to connect deeper with the plant. We had the chance to study unique cultivars that Adolfo and other growers/breeders had grown especially for the class. I would never have the opportunity to see those cultivars in the market. All-day long, you use your senses to understand the flower. It was just too much fun!
In-person really gives me the opportunity to learn how to connect with everyone from different corners of the industry and how to be a guide who is humble and ready to share knowledge about the plant without ego and prejudice.
My experience at the Level 2 course
Put your glass on and clear your nose because level 2 is mainly focused on developing your senses! You learn about different cannabis family classifications and how to recognize them using your senses. You have access to a wide selection of cultivars that are studied all day long. I also loved the fact that we had to smell different isolated terpenes. Most of the course, with the guidance of Adolfo, you learn how to develop your senses. It’s a unique experience. The final exam is also really fun because the main part is a blind test where you have to recognize the different isolated terpenes. You also have to put a name and classification on all the cultivars you studied during the day. It’s a challenging exam but with focus and confidence, everyone with passion and a good nose is going to succeed.
As Adolfo said during the class, a sommelier is a bridge between all the different parties in the industry. As a sommelier, you can build connections and understanding between the world of growers, breeders, retailers, marketers, scientists and of course, the consumer. It certainly inspired me and I honestly believe that with legalization appearing all around the world, the Cannabis Sommelier will play a determinant role in the world of cannabis.