Did you know that cannabis and the LGBTQ+ community have had a long, intertwined history?
The truth is the LGBTQ+ community pioneered the path to the legalization of cannabis. It was a movement born out of empathy - the community led an entire revolution for the sake of those suffering as a consequence of discrimination. The legislation for cannabis, however, didn’t happen overnight and without the diligent advocacy of some absolutely phenomenal humans.
Here’s the scoop.
2 Epic Cannabis Advocates
The brave community of ruthless activists who fought for the legalization of medical cannabis during the HIV/AIDS epidemic deserves an epic shoutout. Cannabis helped AIDS patients with their pain and loss of appetite, which were common symptoms. Today, we’ll introduce you to two of the advocates that helped shape the cannabis industry by doing some solid humanitarian work along the way.
Meet Dennis Peron
In the ’80s, Dennis lived with his partner Jonathan West in the Castro of San Francisco, where he learned about the beneficial effects of medical cannabis for people with HIV/AIDS, especially when helping them maintain a healthy weight. Jonathan “was wasting from 142 pounds down to 110,” he later said, but cannabis helped him to have an appetite.
Jonathan passed away from AIDS in 1990.
In an interview with the LA Times, Dennis said:
“At that point, I didn’t know what I was living for. I was the loneliest guy in America. In my pain, I decided to leave Jonathan a legacy of love. I made it my moral pursuit to let everyone know about Jonathan’s life, his death, and his use of marijuana and how it gave him dignity in his final days.”
Dennis worked on Proposition P, a popular ballot initiative that legalized medical cannabis in San Francisco.
When the opportunity arose, he opened the nation’s first public cannabis dispensary, the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers’ Club, which helped over 9,000 people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other illnesses obtain access to medical cannabis. Unfortunately, the Cannabis Buyers’ Club was raided and shut down by the state in 1996. Countless people lost the critical care they needed and deserved. Peron later worked to pass Proposition 215, a ballot initiative to legalize medical cannabis in California.
What a legend.
Meet ‘Brownie Mary’
As a hospital volunteer at San Francisco General Hospital, Mary Rathbun (lovingly referred to as ‘Brownie Mary’) became known for baking and distributing cannabis brownies to AIDS patients. Along with activist Dennis Peron, Rathbun lobbied for the legalization of cannabis for medical use, and she helped pass San Francisco Proposition P (1991) and California Proposition 215 (1996) to achieve those goals. She was also the co-founder of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club with Dennis Peron, the first medical cannabis dispensary in the United States.
The story goes that Mary baked 600 brownies a day for those who needed them. She didn’t make any money from her baking, only charging patients what it cost her to make them.
That’s epic, right?
Oh, fun fact: Mary never shared her secret brownie recipe with anyone.
Karma + Continuing the Work
Of course, many are still hard at work advocating for the federal and statewide legalization of cannabis. But, if anything, all of us can learn from Dennis and Mary’s work. It takes consistent audacity and a healthy dose of empathy to create change (as well as a certain badass component).
Are we right or what?
Continuing the work of Dennis and Mary are countless other advocates in the LGBTQ+ community. People that believe in standing in solidarity with those that have paved the path before them. We celebrate those that advocate for lasting change, who believe in leveling the playing field for all of humanity and making a difference for generations to come.
Who is with us?!
At Yummi Karma, we never want to forget that we can only create magical cannabis products that change lives because of the LGBTQ+ community.
We owe them a debt of gratitude and SO MUCH MORE, which is why we decided to launch Rainbow Sherbet PRIDE Drops as our first GOOD KARMA product in 2020. Rainbow Sherbet PRIDE Drops contain 600mg of THC and a Rainbow Sherbet flavor and is available at a licensed California cannabis retailer near you.