Oakland Museum Hosts First-Ever Exhibition on Marijuana

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Oakland Museum Hosts First-Ever Exhibition on Marijuana History & Science

Upon exiting the new exhibit “Altered State: Marijuana in California” at the Oakland Museum of California, I sit down in the heart of Oakland, the city predominately featured in the exhibit, to reflect on what I just experienced. OPD choppers circle overhead as I watch children heading home from school, two key subjects in the marijuana discussion merging before my eyes. I could use some of the delectable buds they had on display right about now — that might help.

In fact, “Creative Grass” is actually one of the 10 perspectives featured in the exhibit, others being “Evil Weed”, “Profitable Pot”, and “Politically Loaded”. This is a prime snapshot of what the exhibit has represented: a rapidly changing city in the Golden State. 

California has historically been looked at as the progressive leader in marijuana reform. Now that 24 states have legalized in some capacity, does that still hold true when it comes marijuana, either medical or recreational? It can certainly be said about the Oakland Museum. The ‘seed’ was planted over two years ago with the hopes to have the proposed, first-of-its-kind cannabis exhibit in a museum approved. 

After the long process, they definitely did not hold anything back. Upon entry, the focal point is a typical museum display case with some not-so-typical contents: four live marijuana plants. 

“Care was taken to use a full grow setup, including lights and a drip irrigation,” said Associate Curator of Natural Sciences Sarah Seiter. “The plants will be cared for and swapped out if they become too big during the exhibit," which runs until September 25. 

What will they do with it all? Can I find Oakland Museum on Weedmaps? The surrounding displays have jars of seeds, containers of various strains to smell, and even a hands-on touch tank with baby clones in soil cubes — everything you would see on MassRoots or TheNug.com. Though slightly jaded from working in the industry, I can most certainly appreciate and respect what they are presenting to the mainstream public. 

The exhibit takes a very well rounded, neutral approach that allows you to form your own opinions. The interactive areas encourage you to share your beliefs, concerns and “Cannabis Confessions” to leave behind for display. 

If all this is too much and the sensations become all too real, there is even a munchie vending machine to satisfy any cravings. The museum is so in touch with the cannabis community that they even are selling tickets for $4.20 on the upcoming stoner holiday. 

Whatever your canna-knowledge may be, I can honestly recommend this exhibit. It will most certainly get the conversation started for many folks. 



The exhibition will be on view in the Oakland Museum of California’s (OMCA) Great Hall April 16 through September 25, 2016. OMCA is a leading cultural intuition of the Bay Area and a resource for understanding California’s dynamic culture.