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Altered State, a new exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California, is a first-of-its-kind exploration through the many facets of cannabis.

Spanning over 3,700 square feet on the museum’s ground floor, Altered State is a quirky mix of vintage paraphernalia, art, historical timelines, live pot plants and photographs of pot-smoking celebrities and others who have played and continue to play a significant part in California’s dance with cannabis.

California’s role in the rise of cannabis’ status is significant from both historical and modern perspectives. In 1996 it became the first state to legalize medical marijuana and, while its path has been uneven since then, it continues to help shape the legal and cultural climate of the plant.

While the exhibit is focused on California, it’s also significant for the industry at large. Visitors can follow the various ways cannabis has been experienced and perceived throughout its history. Placards and overblown photos meld with interactive art to create displays that are both informational and tactile.

A confessional booth allows visitors to write out their secret feelings about marijuana. “I’d rather smoke pot than make love,” one person scrawled, while another detailed how cannabis helped a loved one through cancer.

Another section focuses on spirituality and how it has been used in various world religions. Butcher block is taped on the wall so visitors can weigh in on one of cannabis’ most debated questions: does it enhance or hinder spiritual development?

Other exhibits look at cannabis’ effect on youth, the rise of the medical industry and its economic impact.

Altered State runs through September 25, 2016.

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Natalia Thurston, an attorney for the cannabis business community and consultant for Altered State stands under her selfie at the exhibit.
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Altered State is the first museum exhibit to include live plants in their display.
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Hemp has nearly as complicated a history as cannabis.
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Each section of the exhibit explores a different facet of cannabis.
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Photos and captions provide a timeline of cannabis both throughout the world and in California.

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