top of page
  • Hammond Lewis

Cannabis and Pride - The LGBTQ+ Activists Who Started the Medical Marijuana Movement

Cannabis and Pride

Pride Month - How the LGBTQ+ Community Started a Cannabis Revolution

When the medical marijuana program finalizes, Tennessee medical cannabis patients will be able to purchase and use low-THC oil with up to 0.9% THC. As of June, we are still waiting for the full infrastructure and program to be rolled out. But June means it is Pride month! And in this article, we’re spotlighting how the cannabis movement has been significantly transformed by LGBTQ+ people!

Tennessee Marijuana Card Celebrates Pride Month!

LGBTQ+ Trailblazers & The Cannabis Movement

In 2021 it might seem like our differences are more pronounced than ever, but as vaccines are rolling out and summer is fading in, we’re looking at the future optimistically. And for 91% of our country, cannabis legalization is an important step in our near future.

Adult-use legalization and social justice are at the top of the legislative agenda for 2022, and qualifying for medical marijuana is getting easier and easier.

Many people don’t realize how much the LGBTQ+ community has been at the forefront of these developments!

June is National Pride Month, and Tennessee Marijuana Card wants to take a moment to recognize, celebrate, and thank a community that has been known for its activism since the Stonewall Uprising in 1969.

Cannabis & The LGBTQ+ Community – A Timeline

California: How the West Won the War on Drugs

Since the 1849 Gold Rush, California has been the frontier for exciting opportunities and chasing dreams. Since then, the state’s population has grown to ten percent of the total US population, and it has been at the forefront of social and political change for the last century.

The Golden State has been ground zero for innumerable movements for generations, with gay rights and marijuana legalization being some of the biggest in recent years.

Part 1: Harvey Milk – Gay Rights & Cannabis Reform

Harvey Milk resigned from the Navy in 1955 when his sexuality was called into question. After leaving the military, Milk spent some years in New York in various civil-service positions until he moved to California to join the growing LGBTQ+ community.

Milk opened a camera store and became involved in politics, eventually winning the 1977 campaign for San Francisco City Supervisor and becoming the first openly gay elected official in U.S history.

Tragically, in 1978 Harvey Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were both assassinated by former City Supervisor and colleague Dan White.

During his short time in office Milk got Proposition “W” passed, an official statement by the city of San Francisco demanding that law enforcement stop arresting and prosecuting people for growing, distributing, and possessing marijuana. Prop W was supported by 63% San Francisco residents, and it marks an important event in the first days of U.S cannabis reform.

Proposition “W” was not an official policy change, it was the spark that started the movement that would ultimately lead to California becoming the first medical marijuana state in the nation 18 years later.

Part 2: Brownie Mary – How the Marijuana Movement & LGBTQ+ Community Fought Together

Mary Jane Rathbun was a prominent anti-war and counterculture activist who gained notoriety during Harvey Milk’s political career.

Rathbun met Dennis Peron, a friend of Milk’s and a fellow activist, who introduced Rathbun to cannabis in 1974 after the two smoked a joint, an experience that would soon change the shape of cannabis in California, and for the United States forever.

Rathbun started baking special brownies, selling them to customers in a restaurant where she worked as a server. After seeing the benefits of cannabis as a medicinal plant, she started giving away her special brownies to HIV and AIDS patients in the San Francisco General Hospital.

Rathbun was caught and arrested several times by the police, but she continued her mission to help patients in San Francisco get the relief they needed with cannabis.

Her final arrest was in 1992. By then she was frail and in her 70s. The prosecutor offered her a plea bargain, but she insisted that the case be taken to trial. The case was ultimately dropped, partially because of what putting a gentle old woman in prison would look in the public eye.

Part 3: Dennis Peron – The Birth of Medical Marijuana in the United States

Dennis Peron was close friends with Harvey Milk and Mary Rathbun. A Vietnam veteran, Peron moved into the Castro district of San Francisco after leaving the Air Force, where he used cannabis to help alleviate PTSD symptoms related to his service.

He became a cannabis activist, holding large smoke sessions and selling marijuana out of several of his storefronts. Peron eventually met Milk, who offered up his restaurant as an HQ for Milk’s campaigns.

In the early 1980s Peron’s partner Jonathan West was diagnosed with AIDS, leading to Peron dedicating his life and work to medical cannabis reform. Shortly after West’s death in 1991, Peron spearheaded the passing of Proposition “P. With support from 79% of San Francisco’s population, Proposition “P” called on the California government to allow distribution and possession of cannabis as a treatment option for HIV, AIDS, glaucoma, cancer, and other illnesses.

Part 4: Wild Weed Spreads from West to East

After passing Proposition “P” in 1991, Peron co-founded California’s first medical cannabis dispensary, The San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club. The future of medical cannabis in California was about to explode, paving the way for consumers and patients across the nation.

Shortly thereafter in 1996, Peron helped pass Proposition “215”, officially making California the first state in the country to allow access to legal medical marijuana.

Cannabis legalization is spreading across the U.S like a wild fire, with a total of 36 states including Puerto Rico and Guam passing a medical marijuana program. The topics of federal rescheduling, legalization, and massive cannabis reform are on the hearts and minds of nearly ever legislator and citizen in the country.

In Tennessee, the details of the medical marijuana program are being studied and implemented. Once finalized, Tennessee medical marijuana patients will be able to legally purchase cannabis oil with up to 0.9% THC. While TN waits for federal rescheduling of marijuana, a commission has been created to study medical cannabis for the Volunteer State. This is possible in part because of the dedication from members of the LGBTQ+ community over the last 50 years.

Medical Cannabis in Tennessee

Thank you to all the activists who have made access to medical marijuana possible for everyone in our country!

From Tennessee Marijuana Card to the LGBTQ+ community, happy Pride Month! We want to thank everyone who has contributed to legalization of medical marijuana in the United States, and everyone who continues the legacy of Harvey Milk and Dennis Peron.

We’re dedicated to helping patients every step of the way, feel free to give us a call at (833) 781-5611 and we can answer your questions about getting a medical cannabis card in Tennessee.


Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.

At Tennessee Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.

Call us at (833) 781-5611, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

Check out Tennessee Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information!

12 views0 comments


bottom of page