Tuesday, January 30, 2018

'Father of Medical Marijuana' Dennis Peron Dies at 72

Photo by Bob Chamberlin LA Times via Getty Images
The Washington Post reports:

Dennis Peron, an activist who was among the first people to argue for the benefits of marijuana for AIDS patients and who helped legalize medical pot in California, died Jan. 27 at a hospital in San Francisco. He was 72.

He argued for the benefits of medicinal marijuana for AIDS patients as the health crisis overtook San Francisco. The Chronicle said the epidemic took his partner, Jonathan West, in 1990.

Last year, a member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors called him “the father of medical marijuana” at an event honoring him last year.

“I came to San Francisco to find love and to change the world,” Mr. Peron said in reply. “I found love, only to lose him through AIDS. We changed the world.”

See full story here.

Dennis Peron was born April 8, 1945.  He was a gay activist and businessman who became a leader in the movement for the legalization of cannabis throughout the 1990s.

Peron was born in The Bronx, New York City, and grew up in Long Island. He served in the United States Air Force in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. After the war, he moved to The Castro, San Francisco, where he became an active Yippie and organized smoke-ins. He also supported Harvey Milk.

Peron sold cannabis from storefronts in the Castro and advocated for medical cannabis, as he saw how patients with AIDS benefited from it. His partner, Jonathan West, whom he met in San Francisco, died of AIDS in 1990. In 1991, Peron organized for the passage of San Francisco's Proposition P, a resolution calling on the state government to permit medical cannabis, which received 79 percent of the vote. That same year, he co-founded the Cannabis Buyers Club, the first public cannabis dispensary. His businesses were busted by authorities in 1978 and 1990. In 1993, Peron and Brownie Mary jointly released a cookbook with recipes for cannabis edibles.

In 1996, Peron co-authored California Proposition 215, which sought to allow the use of medical cannabis. Dan Lungren, the Attorney General of California, ordered a bust of Peron's club a month before the election, arresting Peron. Proposition 215 was passed soon thereafter, which allowed the club to reopen.

Later in life, Peron owned and operated a 20-acre (8.1 ha) cannabis farm near Clear Lake, California. San Francisco's Board of Supervisors recognized Peron, who was suffering with late-stage lung cancer, with a certificate of honor in 2017.  On January 27, 2018, aged 72, Peron died of lung cancer.

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