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Canna-Connections: PRIDE

Updated: May 31, 2023

Happy PRIDE Month to all the girls, gays and theys!

Cannabis and PRIDE have been intersected for generations. One would not have thrived or been where it is today without the other. Few thing

s to remember as we enter this month..


PRIDE was a protest lead by


PRIDE has evolved into a movement for people to be able to express their gender, sexuality and uniqueness. Every June, we see an abundance of rainbow flags outside of establishments, PRIDE themed merchandise and corporations expressing their allyship. We also see a lot of LGBTQ+ members expressing themselves boldly and having more moments of feeling safe and loved.

However, the history of PRIDE seems to be forgotten. The people who started PRIDE seems to be forgotten. Black and Brown trans-women and lesbians are the ones who lead the movement of PRIDE but are also two of the most threatened demographics in the queer community.

The Stonewall riots were in no way the beginning of gay rights, but it was a huge spark for it. On June 28th, 1969, queer people in New York collectively decided they have had enough. From 1am till about 4am, gay and trans people fought back against a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a bar known to be a safe haven for the queer community. Due to homophobic laws, gay bars were often raided and people were forced to ID themselves leading to a lot of queer people to get arrested and beaten. The Stonewall Riots went on for a few days to spread awareness about gay liberation. The leader of the riots were Black/Brown trans-women and lesbians like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Storme DeLarverie. These women started and lead more gay rights organizations such as Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) and were members of others such as Gay Activist Alliance and Gay Liberation Front.

Knowing and honoring the violent yet revolutionary history of PRIDE is crucial to better protect our community from further violence and exploitation.

Pictured left to right: Storme DeLarverie, Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson

Gay and Trans people lead the movement for legal cannabis

The legality of cannabis came about from the intersection of the War on Drugs, AIDS epidemic, and PRIDE. To show the timeline connection:

  • The War on Drugs begun in 1971 when Nixon declared it and goes on to this day

  • Though the first case of HIV/AIDS was not declared until the '81, HIV was known about throughout the 70s.

  • The beginning of PRIDE was in the late 60s-early 70s

Three major and revolutionary events happening simultaneously.

The War on Drugs came about due to an extremely racist man, Harry Anslinger, starting to enforce arrests on Black and Brown people using cannabis in the 1930s. He attempted to go after arrests on substances such as heroin and cocaine, but there was minimal cases. Cannabis was being popularized by Black and Brown people in the Harlem Renaissance Era, also a time for queerness to thrive. He made these arrests easy by instilling racist propaganda about cannabis makes Black people violent. These arrests snowballed into enforcing more laws on queer and Black/Brown people. Soon enough, gay people were prohibited from working and being accepted in general, leading increase in drug use and in prostitution. With the rise in drug consumption and soliciting, the laws and enforcement also escalated going on. Not too long after the beginning of the PRIDE movement, Nixon also declared the War on Drugs and AIDS epidemic starts to arise.

It is evident that the war on drugs fueled theHIV/ AIDS epidemic by enforcing more arrests on non-violent drug offenses. Not only were people placed in unsafe conditions while incarcerated, there was no preventive measure from HIV. People were not aware of how the virus spread at the time nor were the resources even available to prevent it. The queer community was getting sicker and dying earlier. The government was aware but didn't take it seriously since it was known to be affecting the Black/Brown and queer community.

Those in the community who were cannabis advocates and users, also became advocates for those impacted by HIV/AIDS by using their resources with cannabis to help their sick peers receive medical relief from the illness. There was little to no medication for HIV/AIDS patients. The ones accessible came with uncertain side effects that could make one feel more sick. Cannabis was one of the few alleviants for the illness and the prescription medicine. Dennis Peron is known as the "father of medical marijuana" due to his efforts of getting medical cannabis legalized in California. He and other activists like Mary Jane Rathbun, was a main contributor to drafting propositions to get cannabis accessible and stop arrests on medical cannabis. In 1996, the Compassionate Use Act was passed, along for a medical cannabis program to be implemented in California.

Transgender people still do not have access to quality health care and states are constantly taking away those rights

Although we have accessible cannabis in majority of the country, the well-being of the LGBT community is still not where it should be. In some states it is being threatened by restricting gender affirming care and limiting basic health care for transgender people. Florida is one of the most known and leading states enforcing the "Don't Say Gay" laws which disallows schools to discuss gender and sexual identity. This increases the probability of trans youth to be victims of abuse and harassment. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 32 transgender people were killed in 2022, majority of them being Black. In previous year, 45 were murdered. Passing laws that dehumanizes our peers makes them a target for hate crimes.

As we go into this Pride month (and the ones following) we MUST pay tribute to transgender people by providing more safe spaces, providing resources, and making sure laws are in their favor. We owe this love and respect to transgender people, not because of what those in history have done for us, but just because they are you.

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