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  • J. L. Campbell

Pride and Cannabis - The Shared Connection Between Marijuana and the LBGTQ+ Community

The history of marijuana is intertwined with a cross section of cultures that is as intersectional as the makeup of America itself. Cannabis is full of healing powers, as the more than 140,000 Missourians with a medical marijuana card can attest to. The road to legalizing cannabis has been a long and tough one, which is still being paved today.

It’s easy to take for granted that Missourians have access to medical marijuana. We know that cannabis can help with an array of medical conditions. Missouri marijuana patients can walk into any dispensary and get the relief they seek. Those with a cultivation license can even grow their own cannabis plants. This would not be possible without those who did the work to change the way we think about marijuana.

The landscape that has shaped today’s marijuana industry is vast. It includes activists, scholars, scientists, pioneers, and reaches every culture and community. This Pride month, we would like to showcase the impact that the LGBTQ+ community has had on the road to de-stigmatizing and legalizing cannabis in the United States.

The Connection Between Cannabis Legalization and LGBTQ+ Activism

Missourians with a medical marijuana card may have members of the LGBTQ+ community to thank for the legal relief they are free to enjoy. Some of the earliest pushes for the legalization of medical marijuana came in response to the AIDS/HIV epidemic.

The gay community was hit particularly hard by the AIDS crisis, and early medicine was not particularly effective for those dealing with the symptoms. Before modern treatments for HIV and AIDS were invented, many patients turned to marijuana to help manage their nausea, bring their appetite back, or simply to relax and relieve pain.

Paul Scott is an HIV and marijuana activist who is currently president of the Black Gay Pride Association. When speaking with the Washington Blade, he recalled living in San Francisco in the early 90s. He remembers marijuana helping alleviate “some of the symptoms of AIDS and the horrible cocktails they put on them initially, which were almost proving as deadly as the virus was.”

Scott recalls a man named Dennis Peron, who would go on to be one of the early pioneers in the fight for legalizing medical marijuana. Peron was a marijuana dealer, who sold cannabis to menwith HIV. His partner, a man named Jonathan West, died of AIDS in 1990, which led him to want to make a difference.

Peron, who was also the founder of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club, co-authored California Proposition 215, which permits the use of medical marijuana in the state. The proposition passed and remains in place to this day.

Harvey Milk and Brownie Mary - Cannabis Activists Who Made a Difference

Peron was in good company among members of the LGBTQ+ community who fought for cannabis legalization. Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected official in United States history, and during his brief stint in office made a big impact. He got proposition W passed in San Francisco, which urged law enforcement to stop arresting and prosecuting citizens for possession, distribution, and cultivation of marijuana.

Mary Jane Rathbun, who is more widely known by her nickname, Brownie Mary, was a prominent anti-war and counterculture activist who was known for giving cannabis brownies to HIV and AIDS patients in San Francisco General Hospital during her volunteer shifts in the 80s and early 90s.

Cannabis was illegal in San Francisco during those days, and Brownie Mary was arrested multiple times. But, she knew that cannabis gives the kind of natural relief that HIV and AIDS patients so desperately needed, and refused to be deterred from her mission.

Marijuana and Civil Liberties - An Issue That Remains

While marijuana is a medical issue, there are additional reasons for states to consider legalizing cannabis. For years, marijuana legalization has been, and continues to be, a civil rights issue. Those who are targeted for cannabis-related crimes tend to be minorities and marginalized groups. In the same Washington Blade profile mentioned earlier, Khadijah Tribble, an HIV and cannabis activist who studied at marijuana policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, gives her thoughts on the matter.

Tribble states, “Any prohibition on civil liberties tends to impact marginalized communities the most.” She continues, “When you have identities that have been systematically discriminated - your gender, your sexuality - you are primed to be more marginalized by marijuana laws. If you are a cisgender white male, you are the least likely to be stopped for marijuana. If you are a person of color who is trans, you are more likely to be stopped, more likely to do time and the time will be longer.”

Continuing to Pave the Road

As the movement to legalize cannabis across the United States continues to gain momentum, members of the LGBTQ+ community remain at the forefront. Conversely, the cannabis industry seems to be embracing LGBTQ+ professionals at high corporate levels in a way that you don’t see in a lot of other industries.

In a recent profile in High Times, Hollyweed North Cannabis CEO Renee Gagnon, a transgender woman who is a pioneer in Canada’s cannabis industry, discussed sharing her story with a crowd of 1,300 at a Women Grow event at the Denver Opera House.

Gagnon knew the cannabis industry was generally accepting of members of the LGBTQ+ community, but found them to be even more welcoming than she anticipated. After sharing her story and coming out to the crowd, it opened the doors for others. She says “By the end of the day, two or three of the speakers had come out on stage or identified themselves as members of the community, and it was just no big thing after that.”

Gagnon is just one of many pioneers in the LGBTQ+ space that continue to pave the road for the legal marijuana industry. Both cannabis and civil rights have progressed significantly in recent history. Just a few decades ago, the legal cannabis industry did not exist, and an openly transgender CEO was unheard of.

It’s clear that we’ve still got a long way to go in both the path to cannabis legalization and LGBTQ+ rights, but it’s worth taking a moment to acknowledge the incredible steps forward that we have taken. Hand in hand, we can expect both of these communities to be intertwined as we head toward the future. In the meantime, the next time you enjoy the natural relief of medical marijuana, remember the pioneers who helped make it legal in the first place.

Everyone Deserves Relief

If you are ready to enjoy the natural healing benefits of cannabis, all you need is your Missouri medical marijuana card. If you haven’t gotten your card yet, we can help. Our medical team is standing by to take you through a quick and easy evaluation to see if you qualify. Schedule an appointment with a marijuana doctor online by CLICKING HERE, or give us a call at (877) 303-3117 to talk to a patient support representative.


Doctors Who Care.

Relief You Can Trust.

At Missouri 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 the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.

Call us at (877) 303-3117, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

Check out Missouri Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in Missouri!

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