Dennis Peron

Dennis Peron (born April 8, 1945, Bronx, New York) is an openly gay American medical cannabis, AIDS and LGBT activist and businessman who was the figurehead for the legality of cannabis throughout the 1990s influencing many in California and thus changing the political debate of marijuana in the United States. He grew up on Long Island, served in the Air Force in Vietnam and moved to The Castro, San Francisco, where he sold cannabis, cofounded the Cannabis Buyers Club, and coauthored California Proposition 215. His marijuana business was busted by authorities in 1978 and 1990. In 1996, Dan Lungren, state attorney general, ordered another bust of Peron's club.

Proposition 215 was passed soon thereafter, which allowed the club to reopen. Later in 1996 The Grassroots Party of Minnesota fielded Dennis Peron, as their first Presidential nominee, in the U.S. presidential election. Peron received 5,400 votes. In 1998, Peron ran in the Republican primary for California governor against his rival Lungren (who won the primary and lost the election to Gray Davis).

He refocused his efforts on the legalization of medical marijuana after seeing his longtime lover, Jonathan West, beaten by police in a raid on their home, as West was dying of AIDS in 1990. In 1991 Peron authored another successful city ballot measure, Proposition P, which asked the state to legalize the use of medical marijuana (a term coined by Peron). He then co-authored and became the public face of Proposition 215, after bills legalizing medicinal marijuana had been passed twice by the state legislature but vetoed twice by California Governor Pete Wilson. Peron organized the effort that gathered 763,000 signatures to put it on the state-wide ballot, and the initiative was passed in 1996.

Peron has voiced support for decriminalization of all marijuana use as he believes the herb is medicinal just as food is and thus should be available to those who want to benefit from it. Peron opposed California Proposition 19 (2010) because he does not believe that recreational use of marijuana exists and that all people who use marijuana are using it medicinally.

Describing himself as "a Republican, a liberal Republican", Peron opened San Francisco's first un-hidden marijuana clinic, the Cannabis Buyers Club (a.k.a. Cannabis Cultivators Club) in 1995. Following several years of legal problems stemming from police raids on his marijuana dispensary, Peron has been "semi-retired" from activism since the late 1990s. He presently runs a bed-and-breakfast from his home in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood.