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4 Queer Cannabis Icons That Changed The Industry

Levi Roberts

by Levi Roberts

June 12, 2024 08:00 am ET Estimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
4 Queer Cannabis Icons That Changed The Industry

Queer people can be found at the front lines of most advocacy movements, and cannabis is no exception. However, some of them are simply seen as cannabis rockstars and not for their queerness in tandem–or vice versa. This article hopes to pay homage to the identities of four queer cannabis icons that aren’t always recognized in their fullness.

These queer cannabis icons have blazed the way in cannabis advocacy and the industry as a whole. Ranging from politicians to drag queens, all of these people have left their mark and deserve to be celebrated!

4 Queer Cannabis Icons That Changed The Industry

Dennis Peron

Dennis Peron was a leader in cannabis advocacy in the 1990s and changed the minds of many in his state of California.

As a member of the gay community, Dennis particularly advocated for the use of medicinal cannabis to help patients with AIDS, which his partner died of. In 1991 Peron put together Proposition P, which was a resolution for San Fransisco to declare its support of medical cannabis. Proposition P passed with 79% of the vote. 

He sold cannabis in stores that were often raided, leading to arrests. In a true testament to his love for cannabis, he was determined to get people the medicine he believed in so much.

Peron has been called “the father of medical cannabis.” He owned a cannabis farm in his old age and died in 2018.

Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man who served in public office in California. On top of his LGBTQ+ advocacy, he was well-known for wanting to legalize cannabis.

Milk was close with Dennis Peron, and together the two pushed medical cannabis into the public’s consciousness. 

Thanks to Milk’s tireless cannabis advocacy, San Francisco passed a non-binding piece of legislation to ban cannabis arrests. 

Sadly, Milk was assassinated before the legislation was cemented in stone. However, his legacy of decriminalization lives on as the fight continues to this day!

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is a Black lesbian woman most famously known for her poetry and activism, specifically, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. In her second installment, Gather Together In My Name, Angelou talks about her cannabis use in her teens and 20s. 

This was quite bold of Angelou, who was seen as an authority in her field–and speaking openly about cannabis in the 1970s was not something professionals often did. 

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Angelou speaks fondly of her time smoking cannabis, recounting, “For the first time, life amused me.”

That’s something a lot of us can relate to.

Laganja Estranja

Laganja Estranja is a drag queen who appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race in season 6. As the name might suggest, she cares a lot about cannabis, and she has a whole page on her website dedicated to her cannabis advocacy.

She’s been featured twice in High Times and was the first openly LGBTQ+ person on the cover of Dope Magazine, with a featured story called “Balancing Gay Rights, Cannabis, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Laganja Estranja released her “Look At Me” music video in 2018, shining light on the horrors of the War on Drugs.

She was featured on Leafly’s podcast The Hash and talked about the homophobia that runs through the cannabis industry.

Simply leaning into cannabis-forward branding can make a huge dent in public perception. Drag Race fans who may not otherwise think much about cannabis were reminded of the plant weekly throughout the duration of her appearance on the show–and people who use cannabis can feel assured by her open love of the plant!

Final Thoughts

Denis Peron, “the father of medical cannabis,” was greatly informed by the AIDS crisis and worked tirelessly, with San Francisco declaring its support of medical cannabis with a piece of legislation he wrote.

People most frequently only think of Harvey Milk as being the first openly gay man serving public office in California–but on top of that, he was a fierce cannabis advocate.

Maya Angelou is a beloved poet who spoke openly about cannabis in her autobiography when to do so was off-limits.

Lastly, Laganja Estranja is a drag queen named after the plant, but it’s more than just a name. She works hard to combine the fight for queer rights with the fight for prohibition and destigmatization.

So, the next time you think of cannabis advocacy, remember the large contributions that these queer cannabis icons have made. And this article is just the tip of the iceberg!

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