Excitement. Plateau. Orgasm. Resolution. These are the interpretive steps taken by The Stone Age Experience, an immersive and experiential cannabis exhibit in New York City.
Ganjapreneur was invited to experience the showcase that promised “a new age is coming,” and boy, was it awakening. As you walk up to the velvet ropes, vaccination card in hand, you’re met by an escalator that takes you to the exhibition’s vibrant entrance. Artist Adam Fu’s welcome mural reading “High” greets you from the wall. It’s informational foreplay and vibes, with plaques hanging on the wall, welcoming all to the ‘states of being,’ beginning with arousal and anticipation. This isn’t just for the ‘cannacultural’ climax. The showcase visionaries, co-founders Sasha Perelman and Elizabeth Santana, had four clear goals in mind – to cultivate awareness, promote a greater understanding of plant medicine, advocate for an overall wellness lifestyle, and elicit purpose-driven engagement. Through collaboration with several “change agents,” or people who’ve been working on the production since August to bring this to life, and over 30 artists, including 23 who the system has impacted, I’d say they were pretty successful in executing this elaborate, educational experience.
After reading about and visualizing how our pleasure centers are stimulated when coupled with cannabis, you enter heightened arousal, with more rooms that show the different stages of excitement. Perelman says, “Sex and cannabis are two highly stigmatized conversations. This is an exploration of the intersection between sex and cannabis. Culturally there is much shame and taboo around these topics.” So naturally, guests have an opportunity to artistically “release” through several interactive pieces meant to cultivate mindfulness, including a light installation that paints your movements on a projected screen. A quick pass through the serene terpene activation, where each terp is named, explained, and hanging from a bushel above, you’ll then find yourself learning even more about the different types of modalities, cannabis, and strains. It’s a lot to take in if you’re new to mary, but for enthusiasts, it’s a refreshing reminder for those struggling with finding the right strain.
As I continued, it was impossible to ignore the fact that read, “2.5 million Americans struggle with opioid addiction, over 100 people die of related overdoses every day,” boldly displayed on a wall. I was reminded that the truth hurts, as I stood in front of several mock-up scripts created to represent those who fell victim to the lethalities of synthesized drugs. The “PAIN” exhibit also includes recordings detailing how many people are addicted to opioids in a 30-day period and the dangers of synthetic drugs. Natural pain treatments were explored, with another activation showing different mindfulness methods, including journaling and meditation. By this point, I was met by a guide named Troy, who not only encouraged me to take more time for myself, hang eucalyptus in my shower to help with breathwork, and to consume with intention, but he guided me into the real heart of the exhibit: Awareness.
Naturally, the history of the War on Drugs is visually told, but the creative work done by incarcerated inmates was truly fascinating. Black Americans are 4x more likely to get arrested for marijuana offenses and some of their voices are being uplifted through poetry, shared letters, and art. Despite serving time, these individuals continue to hold on to hope that reform will come, with tally marks in chalk signifying counting days until they can be reunited with their family again.
As I sat in the chair of the final piece, facing a one-way mirror opposite a prison visiting room rendition, with a sign on the wall outlining strict rules, my heart and head couldn’t help but be with the many men and women currently serving decades for weed amounts I could consume in an hour. It’s unjust and not right; this group did a poignant effort in making anyone who went through the exhibit feel that.
“We really hope people leave feeling transformed—inspired and empowered from the experience, education, and artistry. The Stone Age is dedicated to fostering human connection, promoting conscious consumerism, and advocating for progress as an industry.” — Sasha Perelman, The Stone Age co-founder
The organizers offer an interactive resolution –– “call-to-action integrations (QR codes) that enable guests to get involved in real-time (i.e., signing petitions, donating to Last Prisoner Project, and more).”
If you’re in New York City, stop by the exhibit while there’s still time. Be sure to follow @WelcomeTheStoneAge for updates.