June is celebrated around the world as Pride Month, a time to celebrate the history, art, and impact of the LGBTQIA community. Many people are unaware, however, that the push for cannabis – and its medicinal benefits – is closely intertwined with the history of gay rights. The broader access to CBD products can be traced back to LGBT activists and their allies.
The AIDS Crisis
In the 1980s-1990s, the AIDS crisis devastated the gay community. Early on, it was unclear how it was spread and even less clear how to fight it. Symptoms included muscle aches, sudden weight loss, exhaustion, and depression, to name a few. According to Paul Scott, a cannabis activist and LGBT right advocate, the treatments at the time were almost as bad as the virus itself. Cannabis was an important tool for patients and necessary for daily pain management and relief from nausea and other symptoms:
“Marijuana was just part of the treatment. It helped alleviate some of the symptoms of AIDS and the horrible cocktails they put them on initially, which were almost proving as deadly as the virus was.”
“We had all these other diseases that marijuana helps for. But it wasn’t until the visual effect of young white men dying in the hospitals with AIDS that it shook the conscience of America and began to change the law… For the first time, this country saw young white men dying and sprung into action to do something.”Paul Scott, “LGBTQ and cannabis activists say histories long intertwined”
The Impact of Proposition P
In San Francisco, Proposition P passed with the support of the gay community, particularly Dennis Peron who had lost his partner to AIDS. Proposition P asked for the state government to allow cannabis be used for medicinal purposes, and it later led to California Proposition 215, which opened up medicinal cannabis state-wide.
Today, many LGBT activists are still advocating for and educating the public about the benefits of cannabis. Khadijah Tribble, the founder of Marijuana Matters, says that she still sees cannabis use and LGBT rights overlapping today, even as both have found mainstream acceptance:
“It’s still an LGBT issue because it’s still not available to everybody everywhere. HIV/AIDS is still high in black populations in the South… They still have to break laws.”
“Any prohibition on civil liberties tends to impact marginalized communities the most.”Khadijah Tribble, “LGBTQ and cannabis activists say histories long intertwined”
Readers, we want to hear from you! What era of CBD history do you want us to cover next? Leave a comment below, and have a safe and happy Pride Month!