Leading the Future Through History
The queer community and cannabis have long been intertwined. The Daily Trojan reports that queer people consume larger amounts of cannabis due to, “higher rates of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of oppression.” Dennis Peron, a well known activist and friend of Harvey Milk, was a pivotal figure in the movement to legalize medical cannabis.
At the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s, sick individuals sought cannabis to help alleviate pain, increase appetite, and provide mental relief. Peron was inspired to make a change when his life partner, Jonathan West, passed away of AIDS-related complications.
In an article by Out, they describe how society attributed the disease to gay and bisexual men only. The government was not fond of the LGBTQ community, and was actively working against them. This rift caused a significant delay in research and treatment for those suffering from the disease, ultimately delivering them a “death sentence.” After Jonathan died, Peron began to gather support for Prop P which sought for, “The state of California and the California Medical Association to restore hemp medicinal preparations to the list of available medicines in California.”
In 1996, Peron also took part in Proposition 215, which would allow patients in California to use medicinal cannabis; it passed with 56% of the vote.
Making Progress in the Workplace
While history is critical for us to learn from, many wonder how the queer community and cannabis continue to grow alongside one another.
In an article by High Times, queer entrepreneurs are making a major impact on the cannabis industry.
Renee Gagnon, a transgender woman, saw an opportunity to play a large role in building the Canadian cannabis sector, bringing the queer community and cannabis together even further.
Starting with research and development, Gagnon founded Thunderbird Biomedical (later Emerald Health Therapeutics). It was during this time she also came out.
In 2016, Gagnon spoke at the Women Grow Conference in Denver, Colorado. It was there she noticed how closed-mouth the queer cannabis community was, noting that only “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.”
Zairilla Bacon, a cannabis chef and member of the LGBTQ+ community, admitted the beginning of her cannabis journey was not easy. As a queer, woman of color, she faced a fair amout of discrimination from others in business, trolls across social media, and even clients.
Spotlighting the Future
While the normalization of cannabis is gradual, spotlighting does help members of minority groups find acceptance in the public domains. When LGBTQ-founded companies are promoted, it makes the community stronger. Because of this, the queer community and cannabis use have made big strides.
Stories like Gagon’s and Bacon’s are only some of a few that have been shared with the industry. To share your LGBTQIA cannabis journey with us, reach out or comment below.
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