In the era of legalization, marijuana history is being made every day. So it's high time someone started keeping track of it. And that's just what Weedmaps is trying to do with their Los Angeles-based marijuana museum.
Weedmaps - an organization billing itself as "the oldest and largest cannabis technology company" - began in 2008 as an online marijuana community providing a platform for users to review and discuss cannabis strains and dispensaries. While it maintains a strong online presence, the company has since expanded its efforts to include several educational and advocacy efforts.
Their latest endeavor is the Museum of Weed, which, with the help of Virtue - a creative agency born out of VICE - is set to open its doors in early 2019.
The goal of the museum is to "educate and inform visitors of the struggle to bring cannabis to this point and its influence on the social fabric of our society," according to Weedmaps President Chris Beals.
"We want visitors to come away with a greater appreciation of the people who battled to end prohibition and gain a deeper understanding of cannabis outside of many of the myths that still linger from the war on drugs era," he told Civilized.
Beals said that he views the project as an opportunity to get a clearer and more informative perspective on what has historically been a stigmatized industry, and hopefully make cannabis more "mainstream." To them, hosting the museum in California was the obvious choice.
"California has a rich history in cannabis, and as the first state to legalize its medicinal use, we felt that it was the perfect location to educate people on its history and celebrate its exciting future."
Beals also notes that Weedmaps is headquartered in California, so having the museum in such close proximity to their offices was "an additional bonus."
He added that the museum, in a lot of ways, is a manifestation of Weedmaps' brand ambition. Their decision to team up with Virtue was born out of their sense of kinship with the company’s underlying philosophy.
"It was very important to us to work with an agency who not only offers creative and experiential expertise, but more importantly, who shares our passion for cannabis education and advocacy and understands the broader social context around legalization," said Beals. "While we at Weedmaps will be providing the vision, exhibit content, and knowledge of the industry, Virtue will be supporting us in making the storytelling shine."
The thing that he believes will set the Weedmaps Museum apart from other locations with similar ambitions - like, say, the Cannabition Museum in Las Vegas - will be its "breadth of information, and call for further advocacy."
"While we of course expect and look forward to having members and supporters of the cannabis community enjoy the museum, we also hope to bring in newcomers to cannabis that may not have as strong of an understanding on the history, industry and plant itself," said Beals. "Our goal is to really bring the narrative and ability to discuss cannabis openly."
The museum features seven distinct exhibitions focused on different "eras" in marijuana history, including 'Pre-Prohibition,' 'Just Say No' and 'Legalization' among others. Coming up with the most accurate record possible for those time periods was of vital importance to organizers.
"The narrative of the museum is being curated to showcase the people, milestones and subtle catalysts that have brought us where we are today," said Beals. "The history of cannabis is a fairly vast subject matter that differs based on geography and background, so during the development of these exhibits, we tried to cover as broad of a perspective as possible."
"From plant biology to prohibition to legalization, the museum is an attempt to do justice in telling a complex story."
Watch the launch trailer for the museum below.