L.A. gets an interactive “Museum of Weed” to show cannabis’ storied past

A new “Museum of Weed” has opened in Hollywood, Los Angeles, that puts the spotlight on cannabis’ history and past stigma in an interactive format.

The 30,000 square foot museum pop-up opened on August 3 to the public after a celebrity-studded unveiling on August 1 that drew names such as Vanessa Hudgens, Ashlee Simpson, and Tommy Chong.

The museum, sponsored by cannabis media and technology company Weedmaps, hopes to shed light on the “important social justice issues surrounding marijuana,” according to a press release.

“Despite increasing efforts to decriminalize cannabis, and overwhelming evidence about its benefits, stigma around weed continues to run deep,” Weedmaps CEO Chris Beals said in a statement.

“Our goal with the Weedmaps Museum of Weed is to demystify cannabis and its role in society, and to draw attention to the impact prohibition of cannabis has had on various social groups in the U.S. and beyond.”

This impact has to do with “social injustices” during prohibition that include 650,000 arrests annually, according to Beals.

“There has been too little discussion of the role that the prohibition played in a number of historical and ongoing social injustices,” Beals said.

Cannabis legalization in the U.S. has often been paired with racial injustice given statistics that show people of colour have been disproportionately charged for cannabis crimes compared to white people.

A number of legalization plans, such as New York state’s cannabis decriminalization law, call for the expungement of those charged with minor cannabis offences, such as possession of a small amount of the drug.

The museum will highlight past injustices and cannabis’ history with a selection of interactive exhibits, art installations, and historical artifacts. Think walking through a room decked out in 1960s psychedelic colours, or a TV playing the famous “This is your brain on drugs” PSA ad that was meant to turn people off cannabis.

The museum features seven different exhibits that span the history of cannabis, from pre-prohibition uses to the War on Drugs and entrapment, to the 1960s counterculture movement, and finally to legalization and how pop culture and science have shed new perspectives on the drug.

The museum was put together in partnership with VIRTUE, a Brooklyn-based creative agency and is set to be open until September 29. A ticket runs $35 and is only available to those 18 years of age or older.

No cannabis or CBD products are sold on the premises, though there is a gift shop with apparel and “cannabis trinkets,” and a cafe with punny dishes such as “One Dank Bowl” or the “Wake & Bake.”

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