Dennis Peron, known as the father of medical marijuana in California, died at age 72, in a San Francisco hospital.
Peron was born in The Bronx, New York City and served in the United States Air Force in Vietnam during the 1960’s. After his service, he went to The Castro, San Francisco where he founded San Francisco Cannabis Buyer Club, the nation’s first public marijuana dispensary. During his time as a medical marijuana activist, police officers arrested and shot him in the leg, San Francisco Chronicle reported.
A friend of gay rights activist Harvey Milk, he was known for recognizing the benefits of pot during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. According to the book by Michael Malott, Peron recognized that his boyfriend Jonathan West, who suffered from AIDS, felt less nausea and a better appetite when using pot. So he started supporting medical marijuana, after his boyfriend’s death from AIDS. Peron also suffered from lung cancer, according to Reuters.
“A man that changed the world,” stated his brother Jeffrey on Facebook, Reuters reported. “It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of my brother Dennis Peron.”
He pushed for proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which started the legalization of medical pot statewide.
“Not many people would have had the courage at the time that he took up the mantle,” Terrance Alan, a member of the city’s Cannabis Commission, told San Francisco Chronicle.