Many of the displays in our museums are devoted to the cultural aspect of cannabis use. Pipes and smoking devices from all over the world demonstrate how different cultures have imbibed marijuana and hashish: they illustrate the various ways to smoke weed. Some of these exhibits, such as the chillums, are traditionally used for sacramental cannabis - smoking as part of a religious ceremony; others, like the bong made from a hemp beer bottle, are mainly to cater for an agreeable high!
Cheech and Chong
Sharing cannabis is, for many people, an important part of its cultural use. Paintings, prints and photographs show everyday people from many eras enjoying a companionable smoke. Figurines of pop culture icons Cheech and Chong, the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, and Jay and Silent Bob acknowledge the role that recreational cannabis use plays in contemporary comedy.
Transcendental effects of cannabis
In early human culture the feelings and effects imparted by cannabis use were intertwined with early religious beliefs and 'communion with the gods', for example when it was burned as incense during ceremonial events and the smoke was inhaled by those participating in the rituals. As cultures have evolved the transcendental effects of cannabis have come to be appreciated by many artists, writers, and musicians. It became, and continues to be, a source of inspiration and creativity for many artists for virtually the same reasons that it is valued as a sacrament.
Smoking for recreation and relaxation
References to cannabis in art, literature and music naturally sparked interest among their audiences and contributed to another popular new form of usage which gained momentum from the sixties onwards – smoking for recreation and relaxation.
It is worth noting that this use of cannabis seems more prone to becoming over-use, or even abuse. While cannabis is one of the safest, least toxic recreational substances known to humanity, habitual use of any substance should be avoided. However, despite the fact that cannabis is far less likely to cause harm than, for instance, alcohol, recreational uses (not to mention recreational users) remain the most maligned, misunderstood, and misrepresented facets of cannabis in the media.