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Dennis Peron, Father of California Medical Marijuana, Dies at 72

Marijuana California

Dennis Peron, the man who started the movement to legalize medical marijuana in California, passed away last week from cancer at a hospital in San Francisco. He was 72 years old.

Peron was renowned in San Francisco’s gay community, according to The Guardian, along with being credited as a pioneer in realizing the health benefits of marijuana amidst the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

Peron’s brother, Jeffery, wrote, “A man that changed the world. It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of my brother Dennis Peron.”

Peron helped efforts to work through a San Francisco ordinance allowing the use of medical marijuana. This work was a precursor to the statewide medical marijuana legalization in 1996 when Proposition 215 was passed. Peron co-wrote Proposition 215. Today, medical marijuana is legal in more than half of U.S. states, including Washington D.C.

Peron was born in New York and was drafted in the 1960s to serve in Vietnam. His first exposure to marijuana was in Vietnam.

During the height of the U.S.’s War on Drugs, Peron opened the first public marijuana dispensary called the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club.

He was arrested a few times and was shot once by a police officer, according to reports from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Terrance Alan of the San Francisco Cannabis Commission said, “Not many people would have had the courage at the time that he took up the mantle.”

Photo: Andy Kuno/AP