The month of June is coming to a close. But that doesn’t mean your support should end. That’s why, in celebration of Pride Month, Chronic Haze is bringing you 5 queer cannabis activists you should know about!
Cannabis activism and queer activism have a lot of overlap. Just as many queer-identifying individuals have endured persecution over the years, many people in the cannabis space have experienced discrimination and unfair treatment due to cannabis’ history as a controlled substance. It makes sense then that many activists for queer rights are also cannabis activists.
As such, Chronic Haze is bringing you another installment in our cannabis activist series. Today, we’ll look at five queer cannabis activists that have had a major impact on the world of activism, as well as a couple honorary mentions.
Probably the most well-known name on this list, Harvey Milk accomplished a lot in his lifetime. Not only was he the first openly gay politician to be elected, but he was also the first politician to advocate for cannabis! He’s even got a biopic telling his story if you’re interested in learning more about him.
Prior to his assassination in 1978, Milk contributed greatly to the cannabis activism front. He was outspoken regarding his support for Proposition W, which called for the end of arrest and prosecution for those who used, grew, or sold cannabis. However, he wasn’t the only notable person that took part in this endeavour.
Dennis Peron and Paul Scott
Another major player in cannabis activism, Dennis Peron was a businessman, Air Force veteran, and cannabis enthusiast that campaigned with Milk in support of Proposition W. After seeing how cannabis alleviated symptoms of AIDS in his partner and other sufferers, Peron founded the Cannabis Buyers’ Club in 1991, the first public medical dispensary in the United States.
But he wasn’t alone in the pursuit of his goals. Paul Scott, one of Peron’s students, worked closely alongside him. In addition to founding Los Angeles’ Black Gay Pride organization, Scott established the first medical cannabis facility in Inglewood, providing cannabis to terminally ill patients. To this day, he continues his advocacy for queer people of colour in the cannabis industry.
As a Professor of Sociology and Women & Gender Studies at the University of Southern Maine, Wendy Chapkis has been able to use her expertise to great effect. Her areas of research include sexuality, prostitution, queer rights, and drug and policy reform. Naturally, that last part includes cannabis.
Chapkis has authored a number of books, including “Dying to Get High: Marijuana as Medicine,” which takes a look at the medical dispensary founded by Peron. In addition to this, she has written numerous articles about topics such as gender politics in cannabis policy reform. Chapkis’ advocacy has served to educate others about the inequities experienced by the queer community, and how the world of cannabis is intrinsically linked to the queer experience.
Karen Paull and Wendy Robbins
Married couple Karen Paull and Wendy Robbins are newer faces in cannabis activism, and have grown their presence in the digital space. After seeing friends with breast cancer use cannabis to manage their symptoms, they started The Marijuana Show in 2014, which has been described as the Shark Tank of cannabis.
The two are known for their generosity, having donated $13 million to cannabis startups in one season of their show. They’ve also partnered with former contestants to found ClubHemp.co, a resource for educational material on cannabis and CBD products for humans and pets. Needless to say, they’ve made great strides in the cannabis industry.
Last but not least is Jay Jackson, otherwise known as Laganja Estranja. Estranja is a famous drag queen from LA who competed on RuPaul’s Drag Race and has become known as the “queen of weed.” Besides being a supporter of US legalization, she’s also an avid cannabis user, stating that it has changed her life physically and mentally.
Estranja has made appearances in renowned cannabis outlets such as High Times, Dope Magazine, and Emerald Magazine. On top of that, she’s also collaborated with the Californian edibles brand FRUIT SLABS to release her own flavour. This, combined with her activism in the queer community, has made her a major player as a cannabis activist.
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Also, if you’re interested in learning about more cannabis activists, you’re in luck! We’ve got a blog post on it right here!