Dennis Peron, Cannabis Activist, Dies of Lung Cancer

Purple rain marijuana feature

A flower for Peron. [Photo by Kym Kemp]

Today, Dennis Peron, a cannabis and gay rights activist, died of lung cancer. Peron, born in 1945 and a veteran of the Vietnam War, became a leading proponent of using marijuana to help AIDS patients when the epidemic cut a huge swath in the gay community during the late 1980’s. The epidemic later took the life of his partner in 1990.

Peron has been called the father of medical marijuana for his work to legalize cannabis for patients. In 1991, he worked with Mary Jane Rathburn aka Brownie Mary to pass an ordinance in San Francisco legalizing cannabis for patients. Then, in 1996, he was crucial in taking a similar ordinance (Prop. 215) statewide–making medical marijuana legal in California.

Eventually, Peron began advocating that anyone consuming cannabis was consuming medically. He famously told Herb Magazine, “Marijuana is a medicine…There is no recreational. Medical marijuana people don’t get high; they get normal. It makes them feel complete.”

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