The Unexpected Connection Between Pride Month and the Medical Cannabis Movement
When Pride Month rolls around every June, we are reminded of the vital role that LGBT people play in our society. From the leadership of Marsha P Johnson, the mathematical genius of Alan Turing, and the media powerhouse that is Ellen DeGeneres, this community has advanced our culture in many ways. Believe it or not, you can trace the beginning of the Medical Cannabis movement back to a gay man in 1991.
At the height of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, Dennis Peron began treating his friends with Cannabis. While on their deathbeds, these patients found relief through Cannabis from the nausea and pain caused by medications. After losing his partner, Jonathon West, Peron decided to focus his life on legalizing Cannabis for medical use.
Dennis first discovered the healing properties of Cannabis while serving in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. After the war, he moved to the Castro District of San Francisco, where he organized smoke-ins, and supported his friend and Politician, Harvey Milk. Because of Mr. Peron’s reputation for healing so many, he was able to lead the movement toward Cannabis Legalization.
Mr. Peron wrote Proposition P with the help of other activists in San Francisco. This initiative asked the city of San Francisco to recommend the state of California add Cannabis to an approved list of medications to treat illnesses like AIDS. In 1991 Proposition P passed with a huge majority. Subsequently, San Francisco adopted a resolution that urged police and the district attorney to make arrests and prosecutions of cannabis possession a low priority. This historical moment was the first step towards Cannabis legalization in the United States.
After this achievement, Dennis continued his advocacy and work with Cannabis, lobbying for statewide legalization. He ultimately opened his own medical dispensary; the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers’ Club. In 1996, he co-authored California Proposition 215, which legalized Medical Cannabis for the entire State.
Before his death in 2018, Dennis left behind a legacy as the Father of Medical Cannabis. He overcame many obstacles, like losing his partner to AIDS, his dispensaries being raided, and his own arrests. Ultimately, he was able to see legalization become a reality. In his later years, Dennis operated his own 20-acre Cannabis Farm near Clearlake, California. We can thank Dennis for being a pioneer in this Movement.
This Pride Month, and all year-round, let us all recognize heroes like Dennis Peron from the LGBT community. Pioneers like him inspire people young and old to create positive change, and be bold in who they are.