Hollywood’s historic Paramount Studios has a new neighbor: the Weedmaps Museum of Weed, which opened officially last night (Aug. 1) on the corner of Melrose and Cahuenga.
The 30,000-square-foot space features a winding, walk-through, chronological series of seven separate exhibitions tracing the history of marijuana. The journey starts with the “pre-Prohibition” use of hemp in items ranging from a samurai warrior outfit to an early American flag, through the roaring ‘20s (“Age of Madness”), the psychedelic ‘60s (“Counterculture Revolution”), the ‘80s Reagan-inspired War on Drugs (“Behind Closed Doors,” “Entrapment”), the fight to free those unlawfully imprisoned (“Dose of Compassion”) and “Legalization.” You half expect to enter a bumper car in the shape of a vintage VW van (a model of which adorns a trippy, psychedelic, “Instagrammable” tribute to the ‘60s) with the dulcet strains of “It’s a Stoned World After All” chiming in the background.
“It’s kind of like a dream, isn’t it? This can’t be real,” marvels legendary stoner Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame at the entrance to this paean to the sacred herb, the brainchild of Weedmaps, the app which is best described as the Yelp of cannabis. “We made it through and we’re still here. I’m very optimistic about the future. I’ve become very spiritual in my old age. The passage in the Bible says there is no beginning and there was no end… forever is forever. Anything that can happen will happen and we will always be part of everything.”
And if that’s not a philosophy borne of a few bong hits…
The museum’s executive director, Weedmaps’ Madeline Donegan, points to its cultural importance in continuing to mainstream and de-stigmatize its use, while also stressing its medicinal properties. “People don’t realize the effect prohibition has had on our communities and the fabric of our society, the social injustices that have resulted,” she explains.“We want to educate people and give them a sense of understanding and try to shift their perspectives. But it’s also a very interactive, fun, engaging experience at the same time we shed light on some very real topics.”
Among the many luminaries on hand for the preview was NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) founder and legendary D.C. activist Keith Stroup, who commended the museum’s thoughtful approach. “In terms of the legalization movement, there is nothing that comes close to this,” said the 75-year-old veteran of the pot wars. “I wish everyone in America could have the chance to see this. I lived through all that history. They did a wonderful job. It’s a recognition that our culture has been important and worth preserving.”
The Museum of Weed will officially open to the public on Saturday (August 3), with a $35 admission price to the grounds, which also includes a café and a museum shop. Of course, there is no smoking or vaping allowed either inside or outside the building, and no weed is actually sold there.
At the launch event, celebs like Vanessa Hudgens, Christina Milian, Ashlee Simpson and Evan Ross walked the carpet along with the statuesque Ireland Baldwin (pictured below), who revealed she has indeed gotten high with her mom, Kim Basinger, though her dad Alec Baldwin, has been sober for years. “She’s not a good stoner because she gets paranoid,” said Ireland. “She starts freaking out, cleaning, rearranging stuff and talking about the future, where I just like to chill.”
Ireland went on to reveal her favorite munchie was “The Elvis,” a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich with bananas and bacon, though she’s since stopped eating bacon. “Also, if there are any Oreos or Flaming Hot Cheetos in the house…”
The 23-year-old Hollywood Medium Tyler Henry has smoked pot since he was 18. “I’m here because I’m a fan,” he says with an infectious giggle. “I do imbibe. But I also think it’s an important cause. I believe in supporting legislation for people locked up for no good reason. It’s important to normalize and take away the stigma.”
Talking about his psychic ability to contact the dead, Tyler adds, “I actually find it’s a great way to meditate and get in the zone. What I do is so much about being able to clear my mind and it actually seems to help.”
Can a Disneyland of Cannabis – say, WeedWorld — be next?