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Nation & World

Get ready for 'Bongzilla,' selfie frenzy at Vegas new marijuana museum

LAS VEGAS (AP) – A glass bong taller than a giraffe. Huggable faux marijuana buds. A pool full of foam weed nuggets.

Las Vegas’ newest attraction – and Instagram backdrop – is a museum celebrating all things cannabis.

Nobody was allowed to light up at Cannabition when it opened Thursday because of a Nevada ban on public consumption of marijuana, but visitors can learn about the drug as they snap photos.

It’s a made-for-social-media museum where every exhibit has lights meant to ensure people take selfies worthy of the no-filter hashtag.

The facility – whose founder says has a goal of destigmatizing marijuana use – will likely land among the talking points officials and others use to try to draw gambling-resistant millennials to Sin City.

It welcomed its first visitors almost 15 months after adults in Nevada began buying marijuana legally, with sales far exceeding state projections.

“Our goal when people come out of this is that they don’t fear the cannabis industry if they are not believers in the industry,” founder J.J. Walker told The Associated Press. “Cannabition is not about just serving people that like marijuana, it’s about serving the masses that want to learn about cannabis and or just have fun and go do a cool art experience.”

Guests will wander through 12 installations with rooms like “seed,” where people can lie down in a bed shaped like a marijuana seed, and “grow,” which features artificial plants in sizes ranging from inches to feet tall placed under bright lights to represent an indoor cannabis grow facility.

This museum in Las Vegas’ downtown entertainment district is not the Smithsonian of marijuana, but it has some educational components. Guests get an introduction from museum guides and some graphics on walls explain how concentrates are made and the differences between indica and sativa cannabis strains.

Museums always evolve with the times to remain relevant, and audience engagement is an important goal for the facilities today, said Gwen Chanzit, director of museum studies in art history at the University of Denver. For those who remember very traditional, no-photography-allowed museums, she said, “that ship has sailed.”

“Once cellphones became ubiquitous, the culture of museum visiting changed,” Chanzit said.

Many of the facility’s exhibits are sponsored by cannabis companies, with their logos prominently displayed. It is common for museums to receive the support of corporations and to place their logo on a wall.

Only adults 21 and older will be allowed at Cannabition. The tour is designed to last up to an hour.

Walker, the founder, has invited reality TV stars, models and other influencers to Las Vegas for the weekend with the charge of spreading the word about the facility.

As for those who buy a ticket but their Instagram followers are only in the dozens or hundreds, Walker said, “you’re still an influencer to your friends.”

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Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reginagarciakNO

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