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Exploring the History Behind Pride and Cannabis

Jun, 2022
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June is Pride Month, a time to acknowledge those who have carved a path for the LGBTQIA+ community, recognize their hardships, and celebrate their wins. Did you know that advocacy for cannabis and Pride are undeniably linked?

Cannabis and LGBTQIA+ rights are interconnected, as both were legally and socially disapproved of for decades – and still are in many ways all over the world. At their peak, these two movements decided to join forces. 

Throughout history, activists for these movements have worked side by side to fight for human rights despite relentless adversity. But how did it all begin? How do cannabis and Pride relate?

Elevate Holistics invites you to explore the compelling history of Pride and cannabis, two battles for reform that were won.

pride and cannabis

The Connection Between Pride and Cannabis

The 1980s HIV/AIDS crisis deeply affected the LGBTQIA+ community, launching the movement for medical marijuana legalization.

Activists for the queer community and cannabis fought to provide medicine to HIV/AIDS patients who benefitted from its healing properties. 

At the time, chemical-based pharmaceutical options to treat HIV/AIDS didn’t exist. Cannabis effectively eased symptoms like nausea, wasting syndrome, and chronic pain. Cannabis was even used for palliative care when patients were experiencing the end of their lives. 

The illegality of cannabis created a sense of urgency in the LGBTQIA+ community to push for medical marijuana legalization. Pride and cannabis began to group together, working toward cannabis access for HIV/AIDS patients. 

During this time, LGBTQIA+ activism for cannabis even manifested as clubs or social networks in which individuals with cannabis would distribute weed to individuals with HIV/AIDS. Studies show that cannabis clubs offered a healing environment for patients, providing health benefits as well as emotional support.

Bills like the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 furthered cannabis punishment, but activists of this time prevailed. This era greatly increased public support for medical marijuana, although plenty of opposition still existed.

Activists of Pride and Cannabis That Deserve Recognition

California was a frontrunner state for the cannabis and LGBTQIA+ movements, and many notable activists resided there. All activists that fought for cannabis and Pride deserve to be recognized and honored. Although the list could continue, here are the stories of two prominent, brave activists:

Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man elected to public office in California and one of the first in the country. San Francisco's gay community widely recognized Milk as their political spokesperson. 

He proposed the legalization of cannabis, helping to pass Proposition W, an initiative that decriminalized the cultivation, transfer, and possession of cannabis. 

Milk was assassinated in 1978 along with Mayor Moscone by Dan White, a former City Supervisor. Proposition W was short-lived due to the assassination of these two figures, and the new administration quickly withdrew this initiative. Milk’s fight for cannabis legalization continued through his good friend Dennis Peron.

Dennis Peron 

Dennis Peron was a San Francisco-based political figure who proposed legislation for legalizing medical marijuana, as he believed all cannabis was medicinal. In the 1980s, doctors diagnosed his partner Jonathon West with AIDS and Peron used cannabis to treat him.

pride and cannabis

In 1990, the San Francisco Police Department arrested Peron for cannabis possession with “intent to sell.” After the trial in which West stated that the cannabis was for his treatment, the court dropped the charges. Two weeks later, West died. 

Peron began fighting for cannabis legalization. In 1992, Peron established California’s first medical dispensary, the San Francisco Buyers Club, with activist “Brownie” Mary Jane Rathburn. Many people in SF knew Brownie Mary for baking countless weed brownies for patients. 

The San Francisco Buyers Club, originally intended for HIV/AIDS and cancer patients, became a treatment center for all types of illnesses. The club shut down after a federal ruling in 1998.

Dennis Peron co-authored Proposition 215 which passed in California in 1996, making CA the first state to legalize medical marijuana. This was the turning point for cannabis decriminalization and legalization across the United States.

The History of Pride

The history of Pride began with the Stonewall Riots that occurred after countless incidences of police brutality against the queer community in New York City – and all over the world. On June 28, 1969, NYPD raided a queer-friendly bar called the Stonewall Inn, arresting guests (especially those who were “cross-dressing”) and employees in a rough manner.

Homosexuality was considered a criminal offense, and serving alcohol to a gay person was only legalized three years prior. 

The injustices garnered a crowd and started a riot. The riots lasted six days and consisted of a series of events between police and thousands of LGBTQIA+ protesters.

On the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first Pride marches took place in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, where individuals gathered to support equal rights. Since then, Pride celebrations have emerged across the country and around the world, showing support for this marginalized community.

Why Pride?

As Pride is a more recent concept in human history, being an LGBTQIA+ individual is nothing new. So, why do we need Pride? After decades of backlash, hatred, and violence toward the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s important to recognize the strife, endurance, and existence of these individuals. 

Even today, nonacceptance and cruelty continue. Pride helps normalize LGBTQIA+ existence, which isn’t up for debate, and lets people know it is okay to be who they are.

Elevate Holistics Honors LGBTQIA+ Cannabis Activists 

Cannabis and pride are intertwined, as the history of Pride goes hand in hand with the history of medical marijuana legalization. Elevate Holistics honors LQBTQIA+ activists for their unyielding advocacy to allow patients access to cannabis. We recognize the battles endured and celebrate Pride not only in June, but always.

pride and cannabis

Would you like to begin your cannabis journey to better health? Do you have physical, mental, or spiritual issues that medical marijuana could alleviate? That’s where Elevate Holistics comes in – and getting patients their medical marijuana cards is what we do best. You pick a date and time, and we virtually connect you with a certified doctor for med card approval. 

Our secure, simple, and fully online process allows patients to obtain their MMJ cards painlessly. 

Book an appointment to get your medical marijuana card through Elevate Holistics to start feeling better naturally.