The Bay Area’s First Annual Cannabis Pride Celebration
Updated: Sep 21, 2020
A moment to reflect: The history and relationship between cannabis and the LGBTQ community.
During the month of June, people all over the world celebrate Pride. It is a time when lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer and other of members of the community come together to celebrate openly and freely loving whoever you choose. It is also a time to acknowledge all of the brave members and activists who fought to attain those rights. Pride celebrations started in 1969 in Manhattan, New York City during the Stonewall Riots when over 200 people fought back against police who targeted and ambushed Stonewall, a well-known but secret bar where many closeted LGBTQ people hung out.
50 years later, most major cities have a Pride celebration sometime within the month. Despite the many years of celebrations, there are still plenty of cities across the globe that have yet to hold their first Pride event. San Francisco has been holding its annual pride event since 1972. On July 11, 2019, Geter Done Productions, with Tali Eisenberg partnered with The Cannabis Trial to host the Bay Area’s First Annual Cannabis Pride Celebration.
Pride events are traditionally decorated with rainbow flags, people dressed in extravagant drag outfits and dance parties that trail into the early hours of the morning. However, it is also a time for remembrance, solidarity, and validation. It is a time to remember that we must keep fighting to protect the lives and love of a group of marginalized, but powerful, people. In the late 70s and early 80s, the AIDS epidemic devastated the gay community. The lack of treatment options, along with government and pharmaceutical apathy, politicized gay rights activists into AIDS activists and health advocates. As cannabis became known as an effective aide to many of the disease’s symptoms, the grassroots medical cannabis movement, as a human right’s issue, was born.
The 1st Annual Bay Area Cannabis Pride Celebration brought attention to the groundbreaking queer role and leadership in the development of the modern cannabis industry. The event honored the pioneers who ignited an international health movement of cannabis access. The tireless activism of key members of the LGBTQ community paved the way for today’s access to this healing and impactful plant medicine.
Today the cannabis industry in California has come a long way. The industry continues to grow rapidly. It’s projected that it could be worth over 7 billion dollars by 2022. Consumers can now choose from hundreds of selections of flower, vape pens, topicals, and concentrates. Tali Eisenberg, a community cannabis educator and founder of Geter Done Productions, often refers to the California cannabis market as the “Vegas of cannabis”. Eisenberg believes it is a privilege, in legal states like California, to have such incredible access to cannabis as a medicine in many consumption methods from so many brands. As the market place grows and consumers are living their best cannabis lifestyle it can be at the backs of our minds how we got to this Vegas-style industry.
“In this together!” The deeply inspiring night celebrated community, education, compassion activism, and LGBTQ leadership.
On Thursday the 7th West venue was filled with over 200 people of every age, gender, race, and color. As vendors completed their set up and the lights went down, guests entered the building with smiles on their faces. Many of the local cannabis brands that were present are LGBTQ founded and focused companies. Attendees picked up their goodie bags which included a special edition of Bowl & Plant Magazine, the newest and first Queer cannabis quarterly magazine out of NYC. Throughout the night there was plenty of time to network, meet and learn with a variety of different cannabis brands and their representatives. There were also opportunities to connect with local social justice groups like the Oakland LGBTQ Center, the Brownie Mary Democratic Club of San Fransisco, the Transgender Law Center and Operation EVAC. There were representatives from respected cannabis brands like Flow Kana, CannaSafe Labs, Somatik, James Henry SF, The Farmaceutical Co., Rosette Wellness, Absolute Extracts, A Cosmic View, and more. The Transgender Law Center was also present. 5% of all ticket sales went towards their organization. The event was given a special blessing from Sister Nova Aggra and Sister Dharma Gettin from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The non-profit outreach organization of queer and transgender nuns have been doing community service and ministry for LGBTQ equality since 1979.
The walls featured poster size black and white photographs by the photojournalist, Rick Gerharter. He has the largest collection of historical LGBTQ photographs in the country which are housed at the GLBT Historical Society of San Francisco. Gerharter’s photos that were displayed at the celebration were of famous activists for both the gay and cannabis community, Dennis Person and Brownie Mary. These individuals were two of the most well-known activists of the AIDS/Cannabis movement. They fought in courts, educated their community and advocated in the streets to provide legal access to cannabis as a medicine to HIV/AIDS and other sick patients. They also fought for their right to be the ones to distribute the medication. Many of the people they distributed to were not just sick people, but their friends, their family, and their community. Together they helped pass a few different bills. The most impactful one was Prop 215 which legalized medical cannabis in California in 1992.
The Cannabis Pride Celebration showed a special screening of Brian Applegarth’s 16-minute documentary, “The Secret Story: How Medical Cannabis Was Re-Legalized in the US“. The short but impactful documentary tells the story of Peron and Brownie Mary through the words of John Entwistle, Jr. Throughout the film, people cheered and clapped as the story unfolded of how these activists managed to deliberately pick fights with police to initiate court hearings. Entwistle, a compassion activist, pioneer and Peron’s husband, was a guest speaker at the night’s event. He shared stories of his time with Peron and how they started the first underground cannabis dispensary, The Cannabis Buyers Club.
Other activists that spoke during the event were Terrance Allen of Cafe Flore. Allen is a compassion activist who not only worked with Peron but has continued to advocate of cannabis legalization. He was the chair of the State Legislation Task Force for Prop 64, which legalized recreational cannabis in California in 2018. The evening was MC’d by Sherry Glaser. The actor and activist has fought for both adults and children to have access to medical cannabis. More specifically, Glaser’s worked to provide medical cannabis access to children with cancer. Entwistle, Glaser, and Allen all took center stage at one point. It was an significant moment. There was also an element of sadness and grief as they talked about all the friends they had lost along the way. Terrance held back his tears as he told the heartbreaking story of losing so many friends to the AIDS epidemic, even his dearest husband at the time. Tears filled the eyes of the audience members as he spoke.
These original activists were then joined by today’s pioneers of the cannabis and LGBTQ community. Chaney Turner from The People’s Dispensary Oakland, co-founder of James Henry SF, John Alston, and Chaos from The Farmaceuticals Company Co. all joined the panel together, as the old and new guard, to discuss the struggles and triumphs they face in the new world of cannabis legalization. One of the most powerful moments came from Kris Hayashi. Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, spoke about the many transgender men and women that have died because of lack of funding and lack of services provided to the transgender community. He also spoke about how there is a lack of education and acknowledgment from the media and community about transgender issues. Hayashi advocated for providing legal protection to this marginalized group, that is often targeted and stripped of their human rights, to better help serve their needs.
The night was a moment to celebrate how far the cannabis community and industry has come. It was a moment to remember how it all started with having compassion, how it started with having understanding for one another, how it started with the desire to fight to have the right to access cannabis as a health option for all. It was a moment to remember that we all play a role in how cannabis can help heal physical ailments but also how it can be shared to create a community that values diversity and equality. The event was just a few hours but was able to highlight all the important figures of the cannabis LGBTQ movement. It also provided an opportunity for those new to the industry to know where we’ve come from so we can better navigate where we’re going now. As Tali Eisenberg reminds us, we’re all “in this together!”
Check out Geter Done Productions for more community cannabis events and educational classes for seniors, women and new users as well.
Watch out for the 2nd Annual Bay Area Cannabis Pride Celebration next year. We can’t wait to see you there!
This article was sponsored by Tali Eisenberg of Geter Done Productions. Thank you for believing in our platform and allowing us to be apart of this historical evening.
Written By Rebecca Victoria