Courtesy of Oakland Museum of California
Melissa Locker
July 05, 2016

Thanks to characters like Cheech and Chong and Fast Times at Ridgemont High’s Jeff Spicoli, the California dude lighting up a joint is a fixture of pop culture. But marijuana is not actually legal in the state — you still have to travel to Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, or Washington, D.C. to legally imbibe cannibis.

While California has had a lenient medical marijuana policy for years, only now are voters in the state considering legalizing recreational use of the drug. A new museum exhibit could help voters make their decision.

“Altered State: Marijuana in California,” an exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California, explores the controversial plant. The exhibition is not a piece of pro-pot propaganda, though: It includes information from all sides of the spectrum, including the aromas of different strains of cannabis side by side with 30 years worth of PSAs about marijuana.

“We're interested in presenting a forum for all sides of deep community conversations about marijuana, its history, politics, culture and impacts on our state,” Associate Curator of Natural Sciences Sarah Seiter told the Associated Press. “We have designed an open and participatory experience to engage anyone who has an opinion or wants to learn more about the complex issues and information about this topic.”

The show is divided into 10 different areas of pot interest, including Cannabis Science, Medical Marijuana, Profitable Pot, Sacred Ganja, Criminal Dope, Creative Grass, Evil Weed, Politically Loaded, Youth and Weed, and Recreational Reefer.

The exhibition also includes live and preserved cannabis plants, and while the DEA probably won’t break down the doors of the museum, the plants are still considered an illegal substance under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.

Other exhibits include a walk-in installation by artist Cybele Lyle that will give viewers' a trip through space and time, as well as a "Cannabis Confessional" where pot lovers and haters alike can anonymously share their thoughts on the drug.

The show was no curatorial whim or part of a politically-fueled campaign, but comes from the work of 100 collaborators who worked for two years to bring the project to life. “Altered State: Marijuana in California" runs through Sept. 25.

If California approves their upcoming ballot measure, the state will become a part of a growing list of states eager to tap into the potential financial benefits of pot tourism.

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