Medical cannabis activist Dennis Peron, who is often credited as the “father of medical marijuana,” passed away on January 27 in a San Francisco hospital, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. A long-time cigarette smoker, he was suffering from late-stage lung cancer.
Mr. Peron was best known as a cannabis and gay rights activist. Originally from New York, Peron was drafted in 1966 into the Air Force and served in Vietnam — he came to San Francisco after the war.
Peron was among the earliest voices to argue in favor of medical cannabis after noticing first-hand the plant’s effectiveness in treating AIDs symptoms — his then-partner, Jonathan West, was claimed by the AIDs epidemic in 1990. In 1991, Peron spearheaded medical cannabis reforms in San Francisco, then took the movement statewide in 1996, making California the first to allow the medical use of cannabis. He was also founder of the country’s first medical cannabis dispensary, the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club.
“The city and the country has lost a cannabis leader who lived life on the edge,” Terrance Alan, a member of the San Francisco Cannabis Commission, told the Chronicle. “He lived his whole life on the edge, and that’s what allowed us to lead in cannabis. Not many people would have had the courage at the time that he took up the mantle.”
Prior to his death, Peron had been living in the countryside with husband John Entwistle, growing and giving away medical cannabis.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Mr. Peron was 71 when he passed away — he was 72.