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Touchstones exhibit explores local cannabis history

The Grow Show opens Nov. 26
The Grow Show features artifacts and ephemera from both sides of the legal divide, throughout the decades. One featured pulp cover is Marijuana Girl, written in 1951 by N. R. De Mexico, tells the tale of a good girl gone bad when she moves to the big city and discovers jazz and pot. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Submitted by Touchstones Nelson

Shakespeare (may have) smoked it. Bill Clinton definitely smoked it, but didn’t inhale. The Kootenays grew it — a lot of it. Canada legalized it. And now, Touchstones Nelson Museum is doing a show about it.

The Grow Show, which runs Nov. 26 to Feb. 27, 2022, explores cannabis culture in the Kootenays through many different lenses, including agriculture, economy, culture, politics and community perspectives via photography, video, art, artifacts and the written word.

“There is both enthusiasm and reticence to talk about cannabis culture in the Kootenays,” says curator Arin Fay. “There was a mixed bag of responses: nostalgia, bitterness, cautionary tales, collateral damage, gold-rush-fever and rose-coloured reminiscence, to name a few. These tales, combined with paraphernalia, recreated scenes, and placebo plants, convey a small part of its vast, complicated history.”

Idealized and pragmatic perspectives are featured on both sides of the legal divide, and Fay, with support from the community, considered carefully the material that would be included, to ensure the narrative being presented is as even-handed as possible.

“There is no unabridged telling of this story — no leather-bound book that we can go to for the facts — history is about perspective and the proof that was left behind, which is challenging when so much is underground, goes unsaid, and has reason to hide,” she adds.

The Grow Show opens Friday, Nov. 26 from 7 to 9 p.m. Masks and proof of vaccination are required. For more information visit