What It’s Like Becoming a Ganjier, a Sommelier for Weed

Scott Reiman offers consulting, food pairings and 420-friendly happy hours

March 17, 2023 7:28 am
A cannabis leaf print on a blue background
Weed gets the wine treatment.
Olena Ruban via Getty

A lesson on the future of cannabis: When the supervisor of the “Apple store of dispensaries,” located near Twitter HQ in San Francisco, quits due to “retail management” burnout, you know the industry has gone corporate.

Scott Reiman missed the personal connections that drew him to the cannabis industry — and didn’t enjoy his daily commute or soul-numbing hours of work, not too dissimilar from the tech companies steps away. Enter the Ganjier, the “sommelier of cannabis.” The 10-course certification program launched in 2021 and has attracted students from Kentucky to Germany. 

Modeled after wine steward programs, Ganjiers are trained in the “art and science” of cannabis by doing a deep dive through the wonders of CBD, THC, CBN, CBG and more. After quitting his dispensary job, Reiman was one of the first to enroll. Now, he is living the dream of being his own boss again and is among 178 certified Ganjiers — including former NFL player Ricky Williams — bringing the personal touch back to pot.

In addition to online coursework and quizzes on the “synergistic effects of cannabinoids,” Reiman underwent hands-on training at a campus in Humboldt that involved sampling different flowers and noting their flavors and effects. He visited a regenerative farm and even role-played client interactions (Reiman’s scenario was to help a newbie on a budget).

“It might sound like we’re sitting around smoking cannabis all day, and much of it was,” he says. “But a big part was terpene training, which gives plants their aroma, flavor and medicinal properties.” In some ways, cannabis is even more complicated than wine. And yes, just like the famous wine wheel of the ’80s, there is now a terpene wheel that helps demystify the unique effects of different buds. “With wines, you’re looking to balance flavor profiles, but not for ways to help you sleep or help with a headache. I can do flavor pairings, but most people need it for medicinal reasons. A client might say, ‘I need something that will help me function at work without getting me high.’”

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For Reiman, a longtime industry vet, the Ganjier program “filled all the cracks in my cannabis knowledge.” Now the owner of Fog City Cannabis, he provides personalized advice via video conference to help clients achieve various outcomes, including reduced anxiety, pain management and, sometimes, plain old getting stoned. “I consult with soccer moms wanting a little vape, a little taste. But typically, my clients are older and interested in symptom management. Seniors are the fastest-growing market. A grandson might say, ‘Grandma, I think you should try this to help you sleep.’” 

In a typical consulting session, Reiman will walk clients through the offerings of their local dispensaries. He’ll start small, with what he calls the “minimum effective dose” and then provide follow-up appointments (sometimes four or five) to narrow down what his clients are looking for. Reiman notes a significant demand for his services from older women; he thinks this is because women were more affected by the stigma against pot back in the day and didn’t seek out dealers.

“Women were lying in the weeds, so to speak,” he says. “I’m just trying to normalize cannabis and help people feel comfortable.”At events where Reiman dispenses cannabis next to, say, a dinner buffet, he always keeps black peppercorns on hand, “It’s one of the things we learned in the Ganjier program, that chewing on black peppercorns will bring you down in the case of overconsumption.”

That’s the other part of Reiman’s business as a certified Ganjier: curating cannabis experiences at events like weddings, bachelor parties, brunches and 420-friendly happy hours at hotels. His specialty is mixing craft cocktails using Cann, a new cannabis-infused beverage that might be poised to take over gummies. “Cann is a microdose product that you can sip slowly throughout the night — it’s very inconspicuous, and you feel a buzz within 10 to 15 minutes, unlike gummies which can take hours to kick in.”

Not to mention, the dosage of edibles is notoriously difficult to control or anticipate. Reiman also does cannabis and food pairings. He might serve a citrusy strain high in limonene with a salad dressed in a lemon vinaigrette.

For Reiman, becoming a certified Ganjier helped bring the social aspect and personal connection back to cannabis. “It’s me doing what I love and people having a good time.”

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