The cannabis industry is booming. With total illegality remaining in only 12 states, cannabis has overtaken the market as America’s cash crop of choice. Many Americans would be shocked to learn that the cannabis market has a slew of LGBTQ activists to thank for its recent prosperity.
When you consider their history together, it makes sense. Both the cannabis industry and the LGBTQ community blossomed in California, and both began to do so around the end of the 20th century.
Without the LGBTQ community, we would not have the cannabis industry that we have today. So, who do we have to thank? Here are five LGBTQ allies in the cannabis industry:
You may not have heard of Dennis Peron, but if you’re a cannabis-user in California, you’ve certainly benefitted from his legacy. After serving in Vietnam, Peron helped pass Proposition P, a 1991 San Francisco bill that decriminalized medicinal marijuana in response to the AIDS epidemic.
Peron went on to co-open the San Francisco Buyer’s Club--arguably the country’s first medical marijuana dispensary--before co-authoring Proposition 215, the bill that truly legalized medical marijuana for the state of California.
Although he passed away in January of 2018, Peron’s legacy championed the beginnings of the cannabis-legalization movement and lives on to this day.
Josh Drayton takes a hands-on approach to diversify the cannabis industry. Drayton started his career in the cannabis industry over a decade ago in Humbolt County as a rare “out” gay man. Since then, he has moved up the industry ladder to become the Communications and Outreach Director for the California Cannabis Industry Association.
Drayton is responsible for helping launch the California Cannabis Industry Association’s Diversity and Inclusion program. The program connects volunteers with less-experienced members of the cannabis community to build mentor-mentee relationships and foster growth.
Andrew Modlin has a history of using his success to give back to the LGBTQ+ community. Modlin is the president and co-founder of MedMen, one of California’s largest and most fruitful dispensaries.
Not only has MedMen been a corporate sponsor of Pride events in West Hollywood, but they have also spearheaded the “Being Alive” program, an initiative to donate cannabis products to AIDS and HIV patients in need.
You may remember Langanja Estranja, otherwise known as Jay Jackson, from the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. After competing on the show, Jackson became the first gay man to grace the cover of any cannabis magazine.
Jackson has used his fame to bring LGBTQ+ visibility to the cannabis community. He launched his own pre-rolled joint, founded an LGTB-friendly medicated dance class, and traveled the country to speak on numerous panels at cannabis events about the importance of diversity and inclusion.
Isamarie Pérez is an advocate for inclusion in both the tech industry and the cannabis industry. She is the Head of Business Development at Meadow, a cannabis software company that’s making waves in the industry.
Pérez uses her success to give keynote speeches on inclusion, advocate to regulators on the local and state level and put together workshops to help smaller distributors get licensed. Her work has helped countless LGBTQ+ hopefuls break into the industry regardless of capital or experience.
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