Got pot? Colorado does: The state was one of the first to legalize marijuana for recreational use. But the botanical genus Cannabis is more than bongs and brownies. Viewed as a plant, not a drug, it intrigues the artistic eye with its fronds, veins and flowers. That’s the premise of “Cannabis: A Visual Perspective,” a first-of-its-kind exhibition at the Museum of Natural History at the University of Colorado at Boulder that focuses on the famed botanical’s visual allure.
The juried show features illustrations, paintings and prints of pot plants — images that suggest that the dominant story of stoners may obscure the scientific marvels of the plant.
The images, presented by the Rocky Mountain Society of Botanical Artists, explore cannabis plants in all their diversity and detail. That range is mirrored by the techniques used to portray the plant: Acrylic, colored pencil, watercolors, oil and other media are part of the display.
Cannabis isn’t a single species: It’s a genus of flowering plants with up to three species: sativa, ruderalis and indica. (Debates about how to classify the species have raged since the plant was first classified in 1753.)
There’s more to the exhibition than art. It also features information about CU Boulder’s scientific work with cannabis. Last year, the university received more than $830,000 to study the effects of high-potency cannabis on the brain and human behavior. It’s one of multiple state-funded grants to study the effects of marijuana on public health — research funded by sales of legal pot in the state.
“Cannabis: A Visual Perspective” opened Sept. 8 and goes up in smoke in January.