NZ: Auckland cannabis museum opens with a bong, weed prescriptions and DJs set for opening

The dress code for next Saturday’s R18 opening event is “dak tie”, which Gray says is “black tie but with green”.

As well as dancing, live musicians and a DJ, there will be an onsite doctor’s clinic, run by Cannabis Doctor, for medicinal cannabis prescriptions and dispensing. There will also be a consumption area.

“Think of like the opening of the film festival or the opening of the Rugby World Cup, but for cannabis and without alcohol, lots of cannabis, legal, medical cannabis,” said Gray, the former deputy leader of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.

“We have a speaker programme, keynote panels with doctors, prescribers, dispensers, patients, cultivators, medical herbalists, people in the industry in the medical space and then bands: Lucky Lance from Team Dynamite, KP from Sunshine Sound System, Russell Brown is going to do a DJ set and then a bunch of other like local bands and DJs.”

Police told the Herald on Sunday they were aware of the event and have been in contact with the organiser.

“The organiser has outlined plans which involve the legal consumption of cannabis. If any matters arise that require police, we will respond accordingly in the situation.”

A spokesperson for the Medicinal Cannabis Agency – part of the Ministry of Health – said there are no restrictions in the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Regulations 2019 on where patients can use medicinal cannabis.

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 prohibits smoking and vaping in specified places, for example in workplaces, and vaping prohibitions may restrict the places where medicinal cannabis products can be inhaled via a vaporiser, the spokesperson said.

The weed museum itself is not new, having existed for several years in Dunedin then in Christchurch, Gray said a failed fundraising attempt to create the “Te Papa of Cannabis” in 2019 led them back to the drawing board.

Next weekend’s opening is a fundraiser to raise money to rent the historic Alpha building, where Gray told the Herald they are hoping to find a permanent home for the museum.

“Auckland is New Zealand’s largest population centre so where the project will have the largest social impact and highest likelihood of success.”

The landlord has offered an initial four-day lease, and Gray said if the event is successful, they will lease the building, formerly used as a church, fulltime on a month-by-month lease and formalise contracts with their prescriber, dispenser and other groups.

“It’s really the only space that’s suitable with a willing landlord in Auckland for us to do this.”

Gray himself is also no newcomer to the cannabis scene.

His record of activism stretches back decades, telling the Herald on Sunday before the 2020 election his political awakening came as a teenager in the United States working in a shop selling hemp clothing, cannabis pipes and other weed-related products.

He became highly active in the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, before joining The Opportunities Party (TOP) and unsuccessfully running in Central Wellington in the last election.

This year he is again running for TOP, but in the North Shore electorate.

The real question is, what is in a cannabis museum?

“Of course, there’s historic consumption devices, but it’s more about the biology of the plant, the biology of the human body, the endocannabinoid system,” Gray says.

“You know, learning the difference between male and female [plants], understanding that it’s only the essential oil glands on the outside of the female flower that contain the drug and everything else is basically hemp.”

Gray, who has been prescribed cannabis to help with issues including sleep and social anxiety, said there would also be information about “reefer madness, prohibition” as well as new developments in the cannabis field.

“The purpose of the museum has always been to destigmatise non-problematic adult use of cannabis.”

Abe Gray is the curator of the Whakamana Cannabis Museum. Photo / Sylvie Whinray
Abe Gray is the curator of the Whakamana Cannabis Museum. Photo / Sylvie Whinray

This, he said, has dove-tailed with the medical cannabis legislation.

“We have rights now and we could just slow walk it and be polite and sort of not say anything and have it be a trickle. But I’m interested in converting every existing user who’s eligible to a patient as soon as possible and fast-tracking this right that we now have to celebrate our culture once we’re all individually legal.”


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