“You may have reached enlightenment,” a pleasant voice tells me as I attain the highest of the elevator. To my left is a floral mural punctuated by the phrase “Excessive” in cursive, glowing pink on the middle. To my proper is a lush inexperienced wall with an indication that spells out “The Stone Age.”
This isn’t an exhibit about cavemen. It’s an exhibit about weed.
It solely appears becoming for New York Metropolis to get its personal exhibition about marijuana. Because the plant has been legalized for leisure use over the previous few years (Washington and Colorado got here first in 2012; New York joined the ranks in March of this 12 months), a slew of marijuana-themed museums and immersive experiences have been cropping up all through the nation, from the Museum of Weed in Los Angeles to the upcoming Cannabition in Las Vegas.
Spanning 9,000 sq. toes in a Chelsea constructing, the New York Metropolis enterprise opened final week. It’s a enjoyable exhibition with a severe mission to destigmatize hashish and discover the plant’s sophisticated relationship with mass incarceration, social justice, the opioid epidemic, and sexual wellness. That includes the works of eight road artists, a few of whom have personally been impacted by the criminalization of hashish, the Stone Age takes guests on a journey by the senses whereas bringing consciousness to a plant that has been misunderstood and used as a discrimination device for over a century.
For the document, this isn’t an expertise centered round consuming hashish (neither medical nor leisure hashish is distributed on the premises, though the web site’s FAQ part says you’re inspired to do no matter you please to “improve” your expertise beforehand). It is a present about consciousness. “For us, hashish is a lot extra than simply getting excessive,” says Sasha Perelman, who organized the exhibition alongside Elizabeth Santana. Collectively, Perelman and Santana have produced tons of of occasions for manufacturers in hashish, wellness, and different industries. “There are various conversations that hashish turns into the catalyst for that we’re actually excited to have on this area and promote a dialog round,” says Perelman.
Stated dialog begins with a four-room show about sexual wellness. The primary room portrays a sense of anticipation by a big pendulum swinging above a forest of vertical matches, nearly grazing the floor. The final room options an ethereal LED sculpture that’s pulsing with gentle. Inside it’s an evocative crimson core. Designed by Brooklyn artist and designer Jason Krugman, the sunshine is a sculptural interpretation of what an orgasm seems to be like. (Upon reflection, perhaps it ought to’ve been designed by a lady.)
This a part of the exhibit is hinting on the relationship between hashish and pleasure. “Hashish helps launch dopamine, which not solely impacts our receptors and our nerve pathways, but it surely additionally enhances our sense of contact or odor,” says Perelman, noting it may be significantly useful for individuals who wrestle being comfy bodily but additionally mentally. Maybe this concept might have been made extra seen within the present—there’s just one signal about the connection between sexual wellness and the plant—however perhaps the purpose is to go away some issues to the creativeness.
The exhibition then goes on to painting the long-standing correlation between hashish and creativity (a nifty DJ sales space helps you to compose your personal beat), earlier than taking up a extra somber tone. In a white nook of the area, a “twister of prescriptions,” as Santana calls it, twists up from the bottom. “The habit and the epidemic didn’t begin on the road, it began behind the desk with anyone writing a prescription,” she says.
As of 2016, 2.5 million Americans wrestle with opioid habit and greater than 100 folks within the U.S. die from drug overdoses every day. The exhibition suggests that there’s a extra pure method to heal. “The advantages of hashish as a pure medication to assist with ache can’t solely assist with opioid withdrawal however hopefully alleviate your have to attempt opioids,” says Perelman. Based on a 2019 study revealed within the American Journal of Psychiatry, CBD oil considerably decreased cravings and anxiousness in sufferers who have been detoxing from opioid medication, which might make detox extra tolerable and in addition lower the possibility of relapse.
A lot of the exhibition is concentrated on the multifaceted potential of hashish, however the drug additionally has a racist historical past. A timeline exhibits the best way anti-marijuana campaigns have been used to demonize the plant because the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act—particularly focusing on minorities and Black Individuals. Harry Anslinger, the person who declared the war on drugs, is referenced under the timeline with a revolting quote: “Reefer makes darkies suppose they’re nearly as good as white males.”
Based on a 2020 report from the American Civil Liberties Union, Black folks within the U.S. are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white folks, although each teams use marijuana at comparable charges. In 2018, over 450,000 people have been serving time for a drug cost—two-thirds of these have been folks of colour. And that quantity is especially staggering contemplating using leisure hashish is now authorized in 18 states. At Stone Age, the crew labored with the Last Prisoner Project—a nonprofit that advocates for these nonviolent prisoners to be freed—and commissioned artwork from people who’ve been incarcerated or are presently. (The originals can be found for buy within the reward store; all proceeds will return into the artists’ fingers).
This set up culminates in a jail cell. Strolling previous a mural painted by an artist who was beforehand incarcerated (she selected to remain nameless), guests enter a dreary gray cell with a flimsy mattress within the nook and a poignant projection of tons of of tally marks slowly filling the wall. Relying on how the crime is assessed, marijuana-related crime convictions vary from 5 days to fifteen years. “Twenty-four hours a day of no freedom,” says Santana.
At its core, Stone Age makes use of hashish as a automobile to discover bigger points. “These are very a lot conversations that make lots of people uncomfortable,” says Perelman. “We wish to create an area the place, in a enjoyable, entertaining, and thought-provoking approach, we will elicit these varieties of dialogues, and begin to create a brand new narrative and create extra progress.”
The Stone Age is scheduled to run for a restricted time solely (the precise finish date continues to be TBD). Tickets begin at $45 and embody a present bag that includes CBD and different cannabinoid-inspired product samples. A portion of gross sales will likely be donated to the Final Prisoner Challenge.