Located off of Barcelona’s famous Passeig de Colom, on one of the Gothic District’s quaint, narrow streets is a museum that has deep-rooted connections to international medical, scientific, architectural, social and political cannabis history. The Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum provides a safe, intellectually-stimulating approach to cannabis education in a city where the plant is legal and made available in membership-only retail locations to Barcelona residents. With a gorgeous, historically-significant location and their signature Cannabus, the museum has become one of Spain’s most famous cannabis-related businesses. The museum is the second of it’s kind in the world, the first having been opened in Amsterdam’s red light district in 1985 which is regarded publicly as the “oldest and most important museum in the world dedicated to cannabis.”
Dutch visionaries Ben Dronkers and Ed Rosenthal saw potential for a museum dedicated to the history of such a highly misrepresented and complex plant, a huge opportunity arose to educate their community and the world about how cannabis has been utilized medically, culturally, spiritually and recreationally for thousands of years. In 2012, as the Amsterdam-based business reopened after a large-scale renovation and refurbishment, another location was introduced in Spain by a cultural anthropologist named Josep Ferigla.
The Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum of Barcelona inhabits The Palau Mornau, a beautiful national monument that had fallen into ruin. This unoccupied palace, dating back over 500 years into Spanish history, has been architecturally revamped multiple times throughout the centuries. The Palau Mornau’s most recent restoration orchestrated by Ben Dronkers and architect Jordi Romeu provides a historically, culturally and artistically inspiring space for the unique museum. Stained glass windows, intricate wood carving and stonework accent the large, open entryway that gives a taste of the museum’s scientific, historical, political and architectural value with a small, free exhibit open to the public. The friendly employees at the front desk offer large, full-color booklets as a walk-through guide of the museum which makes excellent souvenirs and can even top it off with a cannabis flavored lollipop for only €1 (which is about $1.14 in United States currency). With a €9 (roughly $10.22 USD) admission ticket, you may ascend a grand staircase that leads you through a maze of rooms packed full with artifacts and information in order to create the most engaging, educational experience possible. There is a multitude of exhibits with pipes, bongs, and hookahs from thousands of years in the past. The walls are tiled with paintings, photos, and posters, from elegant portraits of powerful figures with elaborate pipes to bright, neon-colored pop-art pieces. An exhibit about medical history and paraphernalia shows the many ways marijuana use and education have been addressed over the centuries, more specifically the past 100-200 years. Rooms dedicated to Reefer Madness, Cheech and Chong and a weed-related photo booth provide some comedic relief. Children under the age of 13 are welcome for free into the museum which in turn encourages families to promote cannabis awareness and education from a young age as marijuana usage rates go up in many countries worldwide. In order to make responsible, informed decisions about consumption, it's important for the user of any substance to be knowledgeable about the medical, scientific, social, and political implications of said substance, producing genuine demand for a place such as the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum.
Offered by the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum and their partner Sensi Seeds, the free Cannabus shuttle is available to transport museum-goers to the annual Spannabis Festival in mid-March. The adult-exclusive festival offers many famous speakers that provide ample information on the constantly-changing modern perception of marijuana while also tying in many of the political, historical, social, and medical elements that the museum specializes in bringing to the public. There are stands that advertise all different types of seeds, growing equipment, hemp products, nutrients, glass, vaporizers, and more! Spannabis boasts a stage setup, a delicious restaurant and a large conference center, all on-site. On the days that the festival is in action admission prices to the museum are deeply discounted to half off so that those who already paid €18-43 for their tickets to Spannabis and desire a richer, more informative experience can hitch a ride on the free shuttle and tour the exhibits even more affordable than usual.
With an increased interest in the legalization and progressive social acceptance of marijuana worldwide Spain has become one of the most cutting-edge European countries when it comes to cannabis, closely trailing Amsterdam. Though Barcelona is widely considered the cannabis capital of the country due to their high volume of cannabis clubs, the political structure of the country allows for each autonomous region to impose their own laws on use and access. At the same time, many drugs including Morrocan hashish and marijuana continue to be trafficked across the border into and out of Spain, asserting a certain international notoriety. With foot traffic through the Barcelona location of the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum totaling over two million visitors, there is quite a lot of business potential in opening a second museum location in another major city of Spain, for example, Madrid, or in another European country altogether. Has the museum had an influence on Europe’s increasingly more accepting perspective of cannabis? The expanse of information being made available by the museums is incredibly positive where cannabis education is concerned. It is possible that the international expansion of more museums could actively work to help educate millions of more people on the commonly misrepresented history of a natural plant substance that has the potential to be both medically and economically revolutionary. Wait and see, it seems that this business is only just beginning to make the truly immense impact that they deserve. There are high hopes for the future of the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museums both in Amsterdam and in Barcelona!