WASHINGTON: In a fresh white lab coat, his name embroidered atop a chest pocket, Cameron Miller looks and sounds every bit the chemist that he is. When he begins talking about the wonders of terpenes – the organic compounds that give plants their distinct odour – he could be a sommelier discussing the power and influence that tannins have on wine.
“Rosemary and oregano, for example, have some very unique terpene profiles,” says Mr. Miller, lab manager at The Werc Shop. “Very, very pungent. You identify instantly with the scent. Terpenes can be very rich and powerful, in their presentation. Intricate, complex and beautiful too.”
Among Mr. Miller’s favourite terpene-producing plants is one he happens to handle every day: cannabis. It has an amazing variety of aromas, he insists, ones he’s not particularly adept at describing but which nonetheless interest him far more than the element of pot that seizes the imagination of most users: potency.
While it has been two years since Washington State voters approved Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana, it has only been nine months since the first retail outlets opened. There have been some early growing pains. And one of the areas that has come under intense scrutiny is the system being used to measure the strength of the pot hitting the market.