Honoring Pride: The LGBTQ+ Fight for Medical Cannabis Access

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Primary Blog/Terpene Flashcards/Honoring Pride: The LGBTQ+ Fight for Medical Cannabis Access

Greetings, I'm Tony Bowles, Founder, Terpene Flashcards, Chapter Chair of Bay Area Americans for Safe Access, and a longtime patient advocate and LGBTQ+ ally. As we celebrate Pride Month, it's an ideal time to recognize the pioneering efforts of the LGBTQ+ community in advocating for medical cannabis access. Let's delve into the historical significance of their contributions.

In the 1980s, the LGBTQ+ community faced a devastating health crisis, particularly impacting gay men. This mysterious and often fatal illness caused severe symptoms, and the federal government was slow to respond, partly due to the marginalized population it affected. Research into the disease’s causes, transmission, or treatment was minimal, leading to widespread devastation within the community. Those afflicted faced extreme isolation in hospitals, treated as highly contagious and often barred from having visitors. Outside the hospital, the stigma was equally harsh; individuals with this illness were frequently fired, denied education, and socially ostracized. This illness, as we now know, was HIV/AIDS, which struck deeply at the heart of the LGBTQ+ community.

Amid this crisis, it became clear that cannabis could significantly alleviate many symptoms associated with AIDS, such as appetite loss, nausea, muscle and bone pain, depression, and anxiety. However, during the 1980s and 90s, cannabis was illegal across the United States, even for medical use. San Francisco, one of the epicenters of the AIDS crisis, had a close-knit and activist-minded community with a relatively higher tolerance for cannabis. Dennis Peron, determined to help his friends, began providing cannabis from his home in the Castro neighborhood, fully aware of the legal risks.

To protect his vital work, Peron became a prominent advocate for medical cannabis. He spearheaded the push for Proposition P, which appeared on the San Francisco ballot in 1991 and passed with a staggering 80% of the vote. Proposition P encouraged the City and County of San Francisco to recommend that California and the California Medical Association restore hemp medical preparations to the list of available medicines. It also ensured that licensed physicians would not face penalties for prescribing cannabis. Subsequently, in 1992, the County Board of Supervisors passed Resolution 141-92, making cannabis the lowest law enforcement priority in San Francisco. This resolution supported medical cannabis use and protected doctors who recommended it.

Dennis Peron's efforts were a critical part of a broader LGBTQ+ community initiative to support friends and family abandoned and stigmatized by society. His advocacy was instrumental in sparking the medical cannabis movement.

This Pride Month, we honor the LGBTQ+ community for their unwavering fight for compassion and medical access. Their courage reminds us that medical cannabis is more than just an industry; it is about human compassion and dignity. Thank you, Dennis Peron, and thank you to all who stood by him.

Tony Bowles, Founder, Terpene Flashcards, Chapter Chair, Bay Area Americans for Safe Access, and longtime patient advocate and LBTQ ally

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Hi, I Am Tony Bowles

Founder at Terpene Flashcards
Founder, ASA-Maryland Chapter
Chairman, ASA-Bay Area Chapter

Tony has spent time as a cannabis activist in DC, founding the original ASA-Maryland Chapter. More recently, Tony has spent time in San Francisco, CA, as the chairman of the ASA - Bay Area Chapter. Tony spends the majority of his time curating individual cannabis experiences.

He dedicates his life to patient advocacy and enterprise level trainings for local and national cannabis companies alike.

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