Dennis Peron, Activist Who Helped Legalize Medical Marijuana, Dies at Age 72

The lifelong activist authored Prop. 215 and opened California's first public dispensary.

Dennis Peron, the lifelong activist who helped legalize medical marijuana in California, died Saturday afternoon in San Francisco at the age of 72.

Peron is famed for co-authoring Prop. 215, which legalized medical marijuana in California in 1996.

His lifelong career spanned multiple decades and improved the lives of millions of people. Peron was a gay activist and one of the first to argue for the benefits of medical marijuana for AIDS patients as the health crisis gained national attention in the 1980’s. He lost his partner, Jonathan West, in 1990 to the epidemic.

San Francisco recently honored Peron for his contributions in 2017.

At the event, Peron stated, “I came to San Francisco to find love and to change the world…I found love, only to lose him through AIDS. We changed the world.”

In 1991, Peron opened the first public dispensary in the country – The San Francisco Buyers Club. The dispensary closed in 1998 after serving thousands of patients over eight years of operation. After the dispensary’s closure, Peron moved to the country where he focused on cannabis cultivation until he was diagnosed with cancer in 2010.

After being diagnosed, Peron moved back to the Castro, where he lived until his recent passing.

The cannabis industry, patients, and activists reacted on social media after news of his death broke. With many calling Peron, “The Father of Medical Marijuana”.

“The city and the country has lost a cannabis leader who lived life on the edge,” Terrance Alan, a member of the San Francisco’s Cannabis Commission, told the San Francisco Chronicle, “He lived his whole life on the edge, and that’s what allowed us to lead in cannabis.”

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