Dennis Peron, the man that began rolling the giant boulder of medical marijuana legalization up the mountain, passed away last week. He not only fought vehemently for the legalization of medical marijuana in California and proposition 215 but was also a major influence in laws to permit gay marriage.
Mr. Peron began his battle for medical marijuana legalization shortly after serving in the air force during the Viet Nam war. His impassioned sacrifices were met with tremendous amounts of opposition in the beginning, but just like the rest of the marijuana legalization movement, he simply persevered.
As a leading figure in San Francisco’s gay culture and cannabis underground in the 1970s and 1980s, Peron was one of the first to realize the health benefits cannabis offered to those battling AIDS in the heart of the crisis that overtook that city in the late 1980s.
Working with other local leaders like Mary Jane Rathbun (“Brownie Mary”) and Dr. Donald Abrams, Peron helped pass an ordinance legalizing medical cannabis in the city of San Francisco, then took the movement statewide with the 1996 passage of Proposition 215, the nation’s first statewide medical marijuana legalization law.
Peron and his husband, John Entwistle, continued to be active in the life of San Francisco over the past 30 years.
Until recently, their bed-and-breakfast “Castro Castle” on the edge of the city’s famous gay neighborhood welcomed all travelers, with day-glow decorated rooms that allowed visitors to enjoy an authentic taste of the city’s psychedelic culture. A painted mural on a garden wall memorialized Harvey Milk, the late San Francisco city supervisor who counted Peron as a close friend and early political supporter.
The marijuana legalization movement is far from over and we all need more spirits like Dennis Peron to finish the job. Where will the next significant leader in the marijuana legalization movement come from?
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