Fun and Learning in Las Vegas?

An Intellectual Journey through the History of Cannabis

The Red Shark…what I wouldn’t give to tear off through the Nevada desert, along the Extraterrestrial Highway, in that car. No lawyers, no hitchhikers, no bats. Maybe some distant, zooming specs in the sky I can’t quite place, and maybe Zager and Evans on the radio. One fast trail of glory and blessed pavement.

If you don’t know the 1973 Chevy Caprice convertible I’m referring to, I suggest you watch, or preferably read the omnipotent Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The vehicle is currently on loan to JJ Walker, mastermind behind the exciting new cannabis museum in Las Vegas called Cannabition, from Anita Thompson, widow of Hunter S. Thompson, a man who has come to be my favorite symbol of all that is truly outlaw, and yet spectacularly enlightening.

Vegas is known for having nearly everything one could dream of conjuring. And yet, up until a few days ago, it did not have a cannabis museum. And as HST revolutionarily embarked on what would come to be known as Gonzo journalism, Walker has refashioned what we typically think of when we hear “art museum”. That is, “Jesus. Don’t touch anything!” Or the fear that sets in when we consider how much money one of these masterpieces might cost should we crash into them for whatever unknown reason.

At Cannabition, interaction is promoted to better define the visitor experience. I had the extreme pleasure of being able to chat with JJ and Anita regarding how all of this came to be. “Nevada shut down all social consumption,” JJ commented. “We had heard about immersive attractions, like the Museum of Ice Cream or The Cado avocado museum. We wanted to bring something to Las Vegas to provide visitors a different kind of cannabis experience.”

Perhaps too archaically, I tend to think of museums as something containing dinosaur bones and children as far as the eyes can dare see, darting around, often screaming. Clearly I have not been to the Louvre. But this isn’t that at all. It’s patterned after modern art museums, with the awesome realization, though, that this art is interactive. “It’s really the next-generation beyond modern art,” JJ explained.

How did JJ score the Red Shark, you ask? “My dear friend Pamela Hart introduced me to the Cannabition team last year,” Anita commented. “Having an educational but also edgy way of showing the history and details of cannabis was a great fit for Hunter’s Red Shark. Like Hemingway’s Pilar, the car represents a journey. The Red Shark at Cannabition helps to remind us that we are on a journey together to decriminalize cannabis and to stop putting responsible smokers in jail. “

She continued. “Hunter and I were both opposed to putting people in prison for possession of a plant. Especially as the federal laws were and still are targeting minorities. I’m proud to host NORML and their lawyers during their legal conference. They’ve done a great job and fight for those in prison and help to change legislation state by state.”

And that’s why JJ chose to use Hunter’s car, submerging it as the centerpiece in the museum’s Hunter Thompson Experience. And yeah…that latter bit is on the bucket list. This portion of the museum, though, provides a microcosm of the man, complete with multimedia showing any one of several movie clips to bring the exhibit to life.  Hunter was an outspoken cannabis user, saying “I have always loved marijuana. It has been a source of joy and comfort to me for many years. And I still think of it as a basic staple of life, along with beer and ice and grapefruits – and millions of Americans agree with me.” He was a member of NORML, and in fact, met the founder of NORML while smoking a joint under the bleachers at the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention. (More on Hunter to come soon to Terpenes and Testing)

Cannabition has multitudes of other wonderful discoveries and cannabis reverence. “We want to provide our guests with a complete journey, from seed to celebration.” The museum will be soon opening a terpene station, where visitors can breathe in the intoxicating aromas of different aromas. Local cannabis testing facility, Digipath has worked with Walker in supplying some of their terpene research for use in the exhibit.

So, when in Vegas, go get a head full of knowledge at Cannabition, purveyors of mind-altering information guaranteed to cure the unimaginative, boring bourgeois.

About the author

Jason S. Lupoi, Ph.D.

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