Whakamana Cannabis Museum
The original museum in Caversham, photographed in 2016
|Location||Shand's Emporium, 217 Manchester Street|
Christchurch, New Zealand
|Type||Science, Social History|
|Founder||Abe Gray, Julian Crawford|
Originally located Dunedin, the museum first operated in David Street, Caversham, Dunedin ( ), and later in the Eldon Chambers building in Princes Street, closer to Dunedin city centre. In mid-2019 the museum relocated to Christchurch, now housed in the earthquake-restored historic Shand's Emporium on Manchester Street, behind the Cathedral Square in the City Centre.
The museum serves as an information service to educate the public about all aspects of cannabis. Its director is long-time cannabis activist Abe Gray, who co-founded the museum along with former Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (ALCP) regional spokesperson Julian Crawford.
Cannabis, while still a criminalised drug in New Zealand, has moved some way towards grudging acceptance, at least as a subject for open discussion. The museum is designed to be a national information centre on aspects of the history and legislation surrounding the drug. Dunedin has had a long history of advocacy for marijuana law reform, largely through the University of Otago's Norml.
Alongside other exhibits, the museum houses a library of books relating to cannabis use and culture, many of them unavailable in more general libraries around the country. In addition to acting as a museum and serving as a centre for drug law reform advocacy, Whakamana promotes open-source computer software. It also features meeting rooms and a digital multimedia studio. The museum operates within New Zealand's laws and does not sell cannabis.
Gray has stated that the presence of the museum and Dunedin's history of support for law change relating to drug use and possession would put it in the ideal position to become a centre for cannabis tourism should the drug ever be legalised in New Zealand.
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