When a cannabis competition judge smells a particular strain, the judge is literally inhaling small particles of the strain. The sense of smell works by detecting molecules that are diffused into the air. These molecules are inhaled into the sinus cavity where receptors (olfactory cells) detect and translate the chemical information contained in the molecules into information that the brain can interpret.
Several things influence a judge’s ability to detect the variety of aromas in cannabis.
First, there are different densities of the receptors found in different people. That’s why some judges are more sensitive to odors than other judges.
Second, the receptor cells can be damaged through exposure to strong substances such as ammonia or nasal drugs. This damage can take several weeks to heal.
Third, changes in the thickness of the mucus that lines the nasal cavity may influence a judge’s sensitivity. Any molecules that are detected by the olfactory cells must pass through a mucus lining, so daily changes in the thickness of that lining influences our sensitivity from day-to-day. That’s why it’s important for judges to take into account their current levels of sensitivity, given their health and exposure to substances that can interfere with their sense of smell.
Finally, the olfactory cells become desensitized to repeated exposure of the same odors. As a result, a cannabis competition judge may be less able to detect subtle aromas as a judging session progresses. One way to fix this problem is to occasionally take deep inhales of fresh air to flush the nasal cavity. Another way to lessen desensitization to certain odors is to sniff something that has a completely different odor, such as your sleeve.
Regardless of a judge’s ability to detect various odors in cannabis, that ability is useless if the cannabis competition judge cannot use accurately descriptive terms to communicate information to the cultivator. It’s important for cannabis competition judges to build a vocabulary describing the various aromas (and knowledge of the source of these aromas).
That’s why the Cannabis Classic created the Cannabis Judge Certification Program – to provide a common set of standards for judges so that there is a level playing field for all entrants.
To participate as a judge in the 2017 Holiday Harvest Festival, click here to apply for the Classic Judges Certification Program.