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Cannabis Museum focused on drug wars wants to change hearts and minds

Posted April 25, 2023 on Forbes

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When April Arrasate got a license to open a recreational cannabis dispensary in Boston, it followed a successful stint of her being a producer of medical marijuana in Connecticut.

There would be a difference with her new business: she wanted it to have a mission. Enter the Core Social Justice Cannabis Museum.

Rather than simply explore the history of the plant, the museum, which opened in March 2021 alongside Arrasate's Seed dispensary, focuses on the inequities of American drug policy through a series of changing exhibits. A lawyer with a biotech background, Arrasate is hoping that in some way her museum, for which she serves as executive director, will be able to change marijuana policy toward the better, or at least change people’s perspectives about cannabis.

So far, the museum, a nonprofit, is making serious headway. Not only has it attracted a diverse pool of investors, some of whom had been incarcerated as a result of the drug wars, but a new location will be opening in Portland, Maine in May. Understandably, Arrasate and her team are excited about this milestone. Now their goal is to spread the word about the new location as well as score more sponsorships and donations.

Recently, Arrasate spoke about the genesis of the museum, the exhibits and what she would like every person to come away with after visiting either location.

This Q&A has been edited for conciseness and clarity.

Iris Dorbian: What made you choose the current exhibit in Boston?

April Arrasate: “American Warden” investigates incarceration in America against the backdrop of cannabis prohibition. For example, every male born after 2001 has a one in thirteenth chance of ending up in jail in America. That's based on 2019 crime statistics released by the FBI. If we take cannabis off the table, everyone would be safer. The museum is there [to examine the effect] our laws have had on our people and our culture. “American Warden” is the first stab at it.

Dorbian: What exhibit will launch the Portland location?

Arrasate: [it's called] “Seed to Soul.” I really want people to understand the impact our laws have had on the plant, all the way to the cultivation and production process to how it interacts with our body and gets to your soul, giving it a high. Everyone wants to know how this plant is grown. What I want to do is show is how our laws have impacted the chemical makeup of the plant.


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