It’s Pride at Native Sun and we are celebrating equality and diversity daily. We do this by exploring the deep connection between the LGBT community and cannabis.
Celebrating PRIDE is very meaningful for the Native Sun staff, as many of our staff and community members are proud members of the LGBTQ+ community. Our staff is our family, so we celebrate them every day, not just during June.
It is worth taking this time to explore the deep impact that the LGBTQ+ community has had on the cannabis movement.
Cannabis has long been as sign of progress and resistance. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that the cannabis movement and the gay rights movement were and are heavily intertwined. The most direct connection is cannabis’ use as treatment for AIDS, which disproportionately affected the LGBTQ community. Most credited with this connection is the “Father of Medical Marijuana,” Dennis Peron.
Peron was an activist who worked tirelessly for access to medical use cannabis, beginning with the San Francisco gay community at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and ’90s. A Vietnam War, Peron returned to the U.S. with two pounds of smuggled weed and began distributing to his friends who were suffering from the painful side effects of HIV/AIDS. In 1991, he organized the passage of San Francisco’s Proposition P, a resolution that allowed San Francisco residents to consume medical cannabis without being criminalized.
Peron co-founded the San Francisco’s Cannabis Buyers Club, the first public medical cannabis dispensary in the U.S. Navigating this new and uncharted field, Peron was still essentially selling illegal cannabis out of the dispensary, so the property was under constant threat of police raids and violence.
Perhaps Peron’s most well-known contribution to the current cannabis landscape is his work on California’s Proposition 215, thought to have blazed a direct path to the passage of Prop 64 in 2016 that legalized cannabis for adults 21 and older in the Golden State.
He was also strongly opposed to taxing cannabis, stating, “In California and other states, medicine is not taxed. Now all of a sudden our medicine has to be taxed. And I don’t get this tax … And I know it sounds good to say, ‘let’s just tax our way out of this thing. But you can’t. This is a moral crusade.”
Later in life Peron ran a cannabis farm in California and received formal recognition from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for his activism. In 2018, at the age of 72, Peron passed away from lung cancer.
We celebrate Peron as a hero in the LGBTQ+ community and as a pioneer in the cannabis field!