Pride month is here and what better way to celebrate than recognize those in the cannabis industry who have always acted with inclusivity at the forefront of their consciousness. These pioneers of marijuana have taken a budding hobby and made it into a viable enterprise for the masses to enjoy over the years. Regardless of what gender you identify with or sexual orientation, the cannabis industry has made a strong stance to declare that you shall never be discriminated against while enjoying their products. Let’s look at what sparked the cannabis industry to show such tremendous support towards the LGBTQ community and the celebrity brands that have helped to take the industry to new heights.
The LGBT Movements That Made The Cannabis Industry
One of the most cited example of support to the LGBTQ community that led to the construction of the industry built on the backbone of inclusivity were the efforts of Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Rathbun during the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996. This proposition was the first successful medical marijuana voter measure in the U.S. at the time, helping people see the medicinal benefits of cannabis beyond the recreational purposes.
LGBT Capital estimated in 2016 that LGBTQ people’s global spending power is worth $5.4 trillion. This is expected to grow exponentially thanks to news of recent legalization talks in the U.S. and abroad. Research also shows that LGBTQ people are more likely to use marijuana which could be linked to the initial push from Prop 215 more than 20 years ago. The push to pass this legislation was in direct response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that was globally identified as a ‘gay’ disease until 1991 when Magic Johnson announced his retirement from the NBA due to HIV.
Peron, Rathbun, and their army of associates helped to legitimize medicinal marijuana for the masses and used the legalization to show to the world the effects of cannabis on desperately ill AIDS patients. In 1996, AIDS treatment was semi-successful at prolonging a person’s life, but at the cost of terrible side effects that decreased each patient’s quality of life. Marijuana was used to offset these side effects caused by the horrible cocktails that which were initially proving to be almost as deadly as the virus itself.
Celebrity Cannabis Brands That Support LGBT Rights
Cannabis brands have been listening to the LGBTQ community more in recent years as industry popularity continues to skyrocket. With the increasing success of the industry has come the construction of a number of cannabis companies that are led by prominent celebrity performers whose careers have been historically synonymous with marijuana in some way, shape or form such as: Willie Nelson, Whoopi Goldberg, Laganja Estranja, and many others. These mainstream stars have leveraged their celebrity status to get involved in the cannabis industry while holding true to their devotion to supporting their LGBTQ clientele.
Willie Nelson is a well-known proponent of pot, having said to be partaking in the herb for the past 65 years. Nelson has said publicly that marijuana has been his exclusive drug of choice since 1978, when he gave up cigarettes and whiskey in favor of cannabis; a decision that he has said “saved his life.”
After achieving substantial success in his music career in the 60s and 70s, Nelson used his newfound celebrity status to focus on progressive causes such as cannabis legalization (of course), pacifism, renewable energy, and supporting LGBTQ rights. Nelson’s latest venture into the cannabis industry, Willie’s Reserve, embodies every part of the rocker’s story, focusing on the community aspect of inclusivity which is felt in his “my stash is your stash” tagline.
Whoopi Goldberg has had an extremely successful career having been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards and is one of the few entertainers to have won an Emmy Award, a Grammy Award, an Academy Award, and a Tony Award (EGOT). In 1999, Whoopi also received the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Vanguard Award for her continued work in supporting the gay and lesbian community, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Whoopi has done for the LGBTQ community.
Whoopi has been very loquacious about smoking pot recreationally for years, having had said that she smoked pot to calm her nerves before her 1991 Oscar win for her supporting role in the movie Ghost. So it makes sense when Whoopi and award-winning edibles maker, Maya Elisabeth, teamed up to create a female wellness-focused CBD line, Whoopi & Maya. Just a year after being launched in California in 2016, Whoopi & Maya products were available in more than 300 dispensaries, becoming one of the fastest growing brands in California. The brand continues to grow after expanding to Colorado in 2017 and offering a plethora of products that are formulated to provide relief for women experiencing menstrual cramps and discomfort.
The incredibly talented and versatile Laganja Estranja is a certifiable triple threat. She has made a name for herself working as a choreographer, cannabis activist, and drag queen over the past decade. As a cannabis rights activist, Laganja has hosted conversations on cannabis legalization all over the world while also being featured twice in High Times Magazine as well as on the cover of Dope Magazine, making her the first LGBTQ+ advocate on the cover of a cannabis magazine.
Laganja works with the LGBTQ community to develop her lifestyle brand that includes pre-rolls, vegan dummies, and more. Her lifestyle brand includes a collaboration preroll joint with San Francisco’s The Hepburns, called LAhepburns, which is billed the first cannabis brand that specifically celebrates LGBTQ+ pride via its product portfolio.