What is The M.I.R.A. Project
The M.I.R.A. Project preserves cannabis industry history as its core mission. It’s been argued that it is too soon to consider anything about this industry historical. The argument of this project’s very existence that this industry, its evolution, and its participants are making history. Our concern is that many of the objects, ephemera, and interviews that will help to tell this story will be lost if not collected now. Let’s dive into how this project got started and its long term goals.
How The M.I.R.A. Project Started
The M.I.R.A. Project got its unofficial start during the 2016 presidential election when Nevada had Question 2 on the ballot. Question 2, for those unfamiliar with the initiative, legalized adult-use of cannabis. During that election UNLV’s chapter of SSDP assisted the Yes on 2 campaign with passing out flyers and talking to voters. Our founder, Stephanie Till, was finishing up her Master of Arts in History and had trouble finding reliable resources on the subject of cannabis. It was then that she decided that if it’s difficult for a researcher to find this information it’s difficult for most people, so she started collecting resources. This was the start of the M.I.R.A. Project, initially only named M.I.R.A. which stands for the Marijuana Industry Research Archive. A collecting mission, outlined below, had to be established to keep the project on task and manageable.
Preserving Cannabis Industry History Through Our Collecting Mission
The mission of The M.I.R.A. Project is to preserve cannabis industry history during the quasi-legal period. The quasi-legal period is from first state legalization of medical marijuana until federal legalization. The M.I.R.A. project will present this history through the resources and artifacts it collects. Each piece of the collection falls under a category outlined below. The scope of this project is to collect first hand resources and artifacts from the quasi-legal period. Secondary sources collected must contain information about this period.
The M.I.R.A. Project will identify and procure both primary and secondary source published resources for the archive. Primary Sources include trade journals, culture magazines, and news articles. Additional primary sources are covered in Manuscript Collections. Secondary Sources include books, peer reviewed journal articles, and documentaries.
Manuscript collections are a primary resource and often contain a mixture of papers, notes, and other printed materials. This can also include scrapbooks, though these are typically handled separately depending on the materials involved.
Media & Ephemera
The M.I.R.A. Project collection is already home to DVDs, photos, and artwork. Each new type of media that comes into the collection is housed according to the best methods of preservation available. Ephemera are the objects most likely to be thrown away, like stickers. Their original purpose is to be shared far and wide which is why we collect what we can of these. However, stickers pose a challenge for the collection over time due to the chemicals in the adhesive used on them. Stickers and other donations that require special handling are kept separately from papers and chemical sensitive objects.
This term is broadly applied to larger pieces in the collection and include: Apparel, Pins, Promotional Items, Product Packaging, and Glassware. Each of these items provide tactile examples of products available or ways brands are promoted. The ever-evolving nature of the regulations on cannabis products mean these items can change drastically over a short period of time.
There is nothing as transformative as hearing about someone’s life experience through their own voice. With this in mind The M.I.R.A. Project will be conducting interviews with businesses, advocates, and influencers to preserve cannabis industry history. These oral history interviews will provide researchers with unique perspectives on this industry. They will also help a future museum tell the story of the cannabis industry during this quasi-legal period.
What we do not collect
The list of what does not go into the collection can be extensive but simply, no actual cannabis products are in the collection. Examples of packaging are included in the collection but product, infused or otherwise, is not included for a number of reasons. Chief among these reasons is that any kind of perishable product could pose a risk of attracting bugs, mold, or other damage to the collection. However, one of the biggest reasons is that The M.I.R.A. Project is research focused and not plant touching.
Long Term Goals
The M.I.R.A. Project is currently in a collecting phase and working toward a non-profit status. It is the long-term goal of The M.I.R.A. Project to establish an archive, museum, and learning space dedicated to education about the cannabis industry and the cannabis legalization movement. We understand it will take time and dedication to achieve these goals. Our short term goal to collect as much as we can while we can since changes to the industry occur regularly is ongoing. Our success with this short term goal is an integral part of fulfilling our long term goals and you can help! Contact us if you want to help with our collecting mission.