Puff with Pride

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Individuals from all walks of life have come together in support of cannabis use and legalization. From activists and lawmakers to celebrities and public figures to just your average Joe, but the most substantial push for cannabis activism came from the LGBTQ+ community in the late 80’s and early 90’s. During this time the AIDS epidemic was in full force. The early victims of this syndrome just so happened to be predominantly gay men, leading to the unfortunate stigma that attached HIV/AIDS to the LGBTQ+ community. Due to the general public’s bleak homophobia at this time and the ignorant belief that you could only get AIDS from being gay, the LGBTQ+ community was unable to receive support. By the year 2000 over 700,000 people were diagnosed with AIDS, and over half of these individuals died from it. 

 

To manage their symptoms, sufferers turned to cannabis to help ease nausea, anxiety, pain, and cachexia – also known as AIDS wasting syndrome. Cannabis significantly increased the quality of life for people with this incurable disease. This is where we see a bond strengthen between the LGBTQ+ community and the cannabis community. Each of these groups faced similar stigma for being on the outskirts of what is considered the social norm. Activists within the LGBTQ+ community played a huge role in medical cannabis legalization. 

Cannabis Activists within the LGBTQ+ community

 
Dennis Peron
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Dennis Peron, also known as the “father of medical cannabis”, was a prominent figure in cannabis and gay rights advocacy throughout the eighties and nineties. Peron co-wrote California’s Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act, which was the first law legalizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Peron’s partner, Jonathon West, suffered from AIDS and Peron saw first hand how beneficial cannabis was to him, especially in his final months. After Jonathon’s death, Peron took it upon himself to educate people on the positive effects of cannabis. Without Peron’s relentless activism, medical cannabis legalization would not have happened as soon as it did.

 

Paul Scott
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Paul Scott, founder of Los Angeles Black Gay Pride, worked as a nurse in the AIDS ward in the eighties and was so traumatized from seeing how these patients were treated that he left nursing. Scott was later diagnosed with HIV himself, and by the late nineties he created the first medical cannabis facility in Inglewood to help terminally ill patients through support groups and safe, legal access to cannabis.

 

Harvey Milk
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Harvey Milk is well known for being the first openly gay politician to be elected into office in California in 1977. Milk was also one of the first politicians to advocate for cannabis legalization. Milk campaigned alongside Peron in support of Proposition W, an initiative to decriminalize the cultivation, transfer and possession of cannabis. This Proposition was approved by 63% of San Fransiscans but was not implemented. Sadly, in 1978, MIlk was assassinated by Dan White, a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who had a history of clashing with Milk and others on several issues. White only served five years of his eight year sentence for voluntary manslaughter. This, understandably, caused an uproar of riots within the gay community. 

 

Mary Jane Rathburn
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Mary Jane Rathbun, also known as “Brownie Mary”, worked for the Shanti Project, the first organization to offer medical services to AIDS patients. Mary got her nickname due to her covert efforts to provide patients access to cannabis through her medicated brownies. At the height of the epidemic, Rathbun baked nearly 600 brownies a day, and she was arrested multiple times for her efforts to try and help these patients. Through these efforts, the Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act was born, stating that licensees are authorized to make retail sales to provide free cannabis or cannabis products to medicinal cannabis patients.  

 

Karen Paull and Wendy Robbins
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Married couple, Karen Paull and Wendy Robbins, have carried this passion for cannabis advocacy into the digital world with “The Marijuana Show”, a reality show similar to Shark Tank in which cannabis entrepreneurs pitch their business plans in the hopes of receiving funding. The show first aired in 2014 and since then has given $13 billion to cannabis startups to do research and build innovation within the community.

Quality Roots is an ALLY

Members of the LGBTQ+ community have had such a profound impact on the cannabis industry. For decades we have seen so many influential figures within the LGBTQ+ community–and allies–that have shown so much support for cannabis use and legalization. It is so important for businesses to give back to their community, especially to a community that has shown them so much support. To show our support, Quality Roots will be running BOGO deals throughout the months of June and July to help raise money for multiple LGBTQ+ organizations. We will also have booths set up to give out goodies and show our support at Motor City Pride, Berkley Pride, Battle Creek Pride, and Hotter Than July. See you there!

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