On January 27th, an icon of the medical marijuana movement succumbed to his battle with cancer. Dennis Peron was a revolutionary; a courageous warrior for medical cannabis from the ‘70s until the day he died. He was called the ‘Father of Medical Marijuana’ by many, but especially by California and the AIDS community— which saw the direct benefit of his efforts. His life was full— he passed away at 72, but his legacy was not in vain. So for you, Mr. Peron— we celebrate.
Dennis Peron: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Medical Cannabis Hero
For Dennis Peron, it all started during his deployment to Vietnam. Before the time, he’d never encountered cannabis. But when he did, he was a changed man. After Vietnam, he moved to San Francisco. It was there that he began to find ways to implement change, especially amongst the AIDS community.
Understanding Peron’s Role in the AIDS Crisis
To understand Peron’s role, you must first know that he was a homosexual man. From the time he was a kid, it was something he understood about himself— it’s what pushed him to join the Air Force and get away from home. When he got to California, he found love— a love he eventually lost to AIDS in 1990. But, it was this that essentially paved his way for establishing medical marijuana. He was one of the first to realize that cannabis benefited those who were battling AIDS. So, not only was he a warrior for medical marijuana, he was an activist for AIDS patients as well.
Being that his partner was infected, he came to have a deep understanding of what cannabis can do to benefit those suffering. In an interview, he once said that his partner was wasting away, losing some 30 pounds. But cannabis kept his appetite up and helped him keep food down. While his partner eventually passed, he used it as his driving force to keep working.
Proposition P and the First Cannabis Dispensary
A year after the death of his partner, he worked on ‘proposition p’, a ballet that received 72% of the vote to legalize medical marijuana in San Francisco. It passed, and Peron opened the Cannabis Buyers’ Club. It was here that he helped sufferers of AIDS, as well as other ailments, gain access to medical marijuana. His dispensary remained open and prosperous until 1996, when it was raided and shut down.
The year his dispensary was shut down, Peron worked on another bill. ‘Proposition 215’, which was to legalize medical marijuana in all of California. This one, while it took a larger effort, still passed with a majority vote.
A Legend is Lost
After the passing of his partner, Peron was in complete mourning. ‘At this point, I didn’t know what I was living for.” This is what he said in an interview with the LA times in 1996— six years after the loss of his partner. He was an angel to medical marijuana users and a stereotype-shattering, strong arm, educated whip for reform. He made a difference, and while we say goodbye with a heavy heart— his legacy, was most definitely not in vain. This one goes out to you, Dennis Peron.