For centuries, cannabis has connected people from all walks of life. It has been a bridge that has brought together people of all cultures. It has helped millions physically, mentally, and spiritually throughout time. This legacy is continued today.
This plant gives hope to many people and helps many others find a higher quality of living. It has also helped spark the creation of non-profit organizations such as the Queer Cannabis Club. This organization seeks to unite, empower and embrace the queer cannabis community.
In October 2021, the energy aligned, allowing for Alexander Farnsworth, founder of Farnsworth Fine Cannabis, a dispensary in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and Jake Bullock, the co-founder of Cann, a Los Angeles, founded cannabis-infused tonic drink company, to meet during MJUnpacked. It was then that the two of them began to fast-track what would turn out to be a successful event during the 2022 Aspen Gay Ski Week.
During the 45th annual Aspen Gay Ski Week, which took place in January of this year, the Queer Cannabis Club made its debut through an unsanctioned* pop-up gifting lounge. This pop-up event was made possible by the partnership forged between Farnsworth, Cann, and Different Leaf. During this two-day pop-up, attendees could meet the founders and learn more about the Queer Cannabis Club firsthand, as well as receive swag bags including gifts from all three companies’ product lines.
According to Forbes, the Queer Cannabis Club has two goals: “to create a queer community that is sorely lacking in the cannabis industry and to bring together artists, creators, entrepreneurs, bon vivants, iconoclasts, and anyone else keen to expand human consciousness.”
Growing up in the suburbs near Denver, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah respectively, Farnsworth and Bullock were raised in areas that were conservative and generally not accepting of young queer men. Cannabis, however, offered open arms and helped them in a meaningful way throughout their journey with queerness and living their truth.
“Where I grew up, it was very conservative—the birthplace of the evangelical movement was only an hour away. That really weighed on me as a child and made that whole identity process harder—and I did not find cannabis until much later in life. From very early on, we’re told that we’re different in a certain way. Queer people tend to use substances at higher rates and that’s not a coincidence or an accident. (Harmful substances) serve a function for us—we’re trying to grasp something, whether it’s community, acceptance, or validation. Cannabis can help with that when (consumed) the right way, not as escapism, but in an attempt to truly validate and find yourself.” —Jake Bullock via Forbes
“I discovered cannabis—smoked for the first time—at age 15. I was very nervous and scared of getting in trouble. I was told that it was bad, but once I experienced it, I felt free—or as free as I could be—in the very conservative, Mormon-focused state of Utah. I instantly loved it and when I moved to New York, it was such a liberated environment. So for me, (cannabis) was always normalized, and our (LGBTQ+) community should be, too.” —Alexander Farnsworth via Forbes
Cannabis isn’t just helping individuals find themselves and unite with others, but it is also helping some on their journey to becoming their true selves and living authentically. Such was the case with Marval A. Rechsteiner, a transgender man who expressed the following regarding how cannabis helped him throughout his transition with hormone replacement therapy.
“In the past when the panic attacks began I was prescribed Xanax to calm me down. Now, I use cannabis in specific ways. During my transition with hormone replacement therapy I was smoking, as it lifts your mood fairly quickly. But tincture is by far my best option in terms of calming my fear down. I don’t get blazed out of my mind on it, it helps me to get into my body and feel good inside my body–which for someone like me who has disassociated for such a long time–is deeply healing.”
A study was published based on data from 2016-2017 that concluded “Lesbian women, gay men, and bisexual adults were more likely to use marijuana compared with heterosexual adults.” It is likely because it is helping them to overcome the hardships that they face physically and mentally due to the stigma surrounding their sexual orientation. A stigma, similar to the stigma that has surrounded cannabis consumers for decades, is one that should not exist in 2022.
At the core of the cannabis community and culture, you can find queer greatness spanning the ages. One of the leaders in the movement to legalize cannabis, Dennis Peron, was a queer man that knew the powers of cannabis and how healing it could be. Unfortunately, this knowledge came as he suffered the loss of his boyfriend and lover, Jonathan West, who passed away from complications caused by AIDS.
West’s symptoms were drastically eased by the plant, and he found comfort through cannabis in his final days. This was something Peron witnessed and was inspired by. It lead him to co-author and ultimately see through the passage of Proposition 215 in California in 1996. This was a pivotal aspect of cannabis legalization history.
The Queer Cannabis Club has gained support from the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), and has gained allies from non-queer-founded cannabis companies as well, such as Kiva. Together, Farnsworth Fine Cannabis, Different Leaf, and Cann have founded what is sure to be a powerful community of LGBTQ cannabis businesses and ally brands across the country.
The Queer Cannabis Club is actively looking to incorporate more LGBTQ-founded brands into its consortium. If you are interested or would like to learn more, check out the website here.
*Queer Cannabis Club is not affiliated with Aspen Gay Ski Week or AspenOUT.
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June 24, 2022 at 10:29 pm
I’m going to have to agree with you on that, Ashley. As a queer woman, medicinal marijuana has helped alleviate so many of my symptoms. I also suffer from Schizoaffective Disorder Bipolar Type. Most may think, “doesn’t cannabis make you more paranoid?” No, as a matter of fact. An antipsychotic mixed with a psychotic. Opposites attract. The stigma around cannabis use needs to end.