LGBTQ+ Leaders in Cannabis Advocacy: Healing Trauma and Advocacy

Join a live Clubhouse recording featuring LGBTQ+ leaders in cannabis advocacy. Learn about the integral role the LGBTQ+ community played in cannabis legalization, specific advocates, and how cannabis helps address trauma in marginalized communities. Get insights into cannabis products supporting sexual health.

LGBTQ Advocates & Cannabis Legalization

This live Clubhouse recording features leaders in cannabis who also identify as LGBTQ – a community that has advocated for the medical use of cannabis for decades to address trauma and AIDS.

After listening to this episode you will have a better understanding of…

  • The integral role the LGBTQ+ community played in cannabis legalization
  • Specific LGBTQ+ leaders who were cannabis advocates of medical cannabis
  • How cannabis helps address the trauma permeating marginalized communities
  • Specific cannabis products to support sexual health

Episode Guests

Maggie Connor |
Neil Lequia | @neillequia
Rachael Rapinoe | @rrapinoe
Sophie Saint Thomas | @bowiecat

Episode Resources & Additional Reading

More Episodes from the Podcast

Podcast Episode Full Transcription

0:00:00.4 April Pride: This podcast discusses cannabis, and is intended for audiences 21 and over.

0:00:09.7 April Pride: Hey, I’m April Pride, one of your high guides on today’s episode, which covers the highs from a recent weekly event on Clubhouse with Plant & Prosper. I host each Friday at 1:00 PM, Pacific Time. Thanks to the shared knowledge and experience of today’s high guides who are leaders in cannabis who also identify as queer LGBTQ, you’ll have a new appreciation for what allyship is really about. For decades, advocates in the queer community have shepherded policy in favor of cannabis legalization. As is the case in other marginalized communities, cannabis helped to heal trauma, so it should come as no surprise that those who identify as queer are two times more likely to consume cannabis than their straight peers. One of your high guides today is Sophie Saint Thomas.

0:00:55.3 Sophie Saint Thomas: Hi, I am Sophie Saint Thomas. I’m a writer and author. I write primarily for Playboy, GQ. I’m a columnist at Allure magazine, and my beats are sex, drugs, and beauty. I am originally from the Caribbean, and thankfully grew up around cannabis at a pretty different setting than a lot of my state-side peers who grew up in this Reagan environment of the ’80s. And I have written a few books.

0:01:26.5 April Pride: Sophie identifies as bisexual and pansexual. She became a medical marijuana patient eight years ago stemming from a sexual assault, and she offers sobering data to support the disproportionate sexual trauma specifically experienced in the queer community.

0:01:41.9 Sophie Saint Thomas: And I did want to note that 46% of bisexual women had been raped compared to 17% of straight women, and that goes across the board for bisexual men, for gay men, for gender nonconforming, and certainly trans folks. And so I think that just cannabis as a healing medicine for queer people is so, so, so important.

0:02:05.3 April Pride: Let’s meet your high guides on today’s show.

0:02:08.2 Rachael Rapinoe: My name is Rachael Rapinoe, and I’m the CEO and co-founder of Mendi. And Mendi really sits at the intersection of cannabis sports health culture and inclusivity. We are a brand that keeps athlete health empowerment and inclusivity at the forefront of everything that we’re doing, which sadly not a lot of other sports brands are doing, not just in the cannabis space, but obviously broadly.

0:02:33.2 Maggie Connors: Hi, everyone. Maggie Connors, founder of Besito here in LA. We make vapes and pre-rolls. It’s a mostly women team, queer folks, and of course, people of color.

0:02:48.8 April Pride: And Neil Lequia, founder of The Full Spectrum, which is dedicated to supporting LGBTQ and allied cannabis industry professionals through networking and education. Listen as Neil share some of the content he’s created to build awareness and support for the ongoing partnership between this plant and people who identify as LGBTQ.

0:03:10.5 Neil Lequia: You can find a three-part webinar series that I did in partnership with the Cannabis Alliance on their YouTube. The first one was The Queer History of Cannabis Legalization, the second one was The Beginner’s Guide to Gender, and the third was Recruiting and Retaining Diverse Talent, so creating a comfortable space for everyone to be able to thrive. I wanna acknowledge that it’s because of queer people, we have cannabis legalization in the first place, where the queer people came on to the scene was… Dennis Peron is the biggest catalyst of the movement. He was drafted into the military, and he went to San Francisco right before he was deployed to the Vietnam War where he was introduced to cannabis and fell in love with it. And then he moved back to San Francisco after he left the military, and he created the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club. Well, actually that came a little bit later. He created the Island Cafe, which was a space in which… It was a restaurant where people could also come and smoke and use cannabis as well. He met this other incredible woman, named Mary Rathbun, who was this little lady who was working at a IHOP, and they hit it off quickly because she asked just to take a puff off of his joint since he thought that was hysterical that this little old lady was wanting to toke on some weed, but Mary, she used to make brownies and sell them.

0:04:56.7 April Pride: And this is how Mary Rathbun became known as Brownie Mary, and she supplied cannabis brownies to AIDS patients through the illicit market. Of course, because weed was 100% illegal throughout the US in the ’80s, Mary was arrested, and Neil picks up the story there.

0:05:13.5 Neil Lequia: And she was arrested and sentenced to a lot of community service hours. This was the very beginning of the AIDS pandemic, so she chose to volunteer her time to the AIDS clinic. And after she was done completing her hours, she just kept on volunteering.

0:05:34.4 April Pride: Yeah, I’d like to thank you, Neil. That is exactly the type of background that I think our audience like me need to hear. Maggie, your stories, Besito stories on Instagram, it touches on a few specific people and events that were integral to the passage of Prop 215, which is the medical cannabis in California.

0:05:57.1 Maggie Connors: Yeah, and even before that, I think, it was… Was it Prop W? Well, shoutout Harvey Milk as not only the first openly gay but a huge proponent of cannabis legalization. And Prop W in ’78 was basically moving police prosecution away from folks who had possession of cannabis.

0:06:21.7 Neil Lequia: Proposition W was done in partnership between Harvey Milk and Dennis Peron. Shortly thereafter, Harvey Milk was assassinated. And Dianne Feinstein, who we know as Senator Dianne Feinstein now, became the mayor of San Francisco and never enacted Proposition W. Dennis created the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club as kind of a publicity stunt. It was like a one-night only thing in a basement area, and he invited the news and thought that they were going to get busted. He wanted the publicity of something like that to happen, but the cops didn’t take the bait. But the news was flooded with hundreds of people living with HIV and AIDS who were just like, “We’re sick, we need this medicine,” the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club, which was a five-story building where they started selling weed out of in 1996.

0:07:25.0 April Pride: Got it. Thank you. So, between 1978 and 1996, that’s so many years. And, of course, it’s not surprising that that’s when the war on drugs was really raging with Just Say No, and President Reagan not talking about the AIDS epidemic for six years. So, to be able to bring those two, obviously taboo and ignored topics, together for a greater good, which it just didn’t happen for nearly 20 years. And you think about all that was lost in terms of quality of life, the full spectrum is intended to normalize being queer in cannabis, right? And so just like commercialization of pride and commercialization of cannabis, there are a lot of parallels there.

0:08:11.3 Rachael Rapinoe: There’s still very much a struggle going on, both in the cannabis industry and in our LGBTQ community as well. And so when we celebrate the cannabis community and we’re taking advantage of the benefits of this industry and the money that’s flooding in, and even just the benefits that it has, as well as celebrating Pride and wearing rainbow flags, we’ve come a long way, but there’s very much still a fight. And it’s important for consumers and for companies to hold themselves accountable because it’s not just about celebrating.

0:08:43.0 April Pride: We in the cannabis industry feel very simpatico with this sentiment. Weed isn’t just about celebrating. Lives and families have experienced unspeakable loss because cannabis, like all non-conforming lifestyles and behaviors, threaten the status quo, which in American society is rooted in all that is heteronormative and, of course, non-psychoactive.

0:09:05.6 April Pride: Thanks for listening to this recently recorded event in Clubhouse, hosted by Plant & Prosper. And join me, April Pride, each Friday at 1:00 PM with an assortment of high guides as we cover all things A to Z related to plant medicine. Of course, you can listen to a new episode of The High Guide every Friday. Please subscribe and follow wherever you listen to podcasts. Thanks to our high guides in this and every episode. A special thanks to The High Guide’s writer and content editor Megan Ridley, our marketing coordinator, Bianca Kroski, and brand manager, Molly Longest. Of course, our producers, Nick Patri and Josh Brown. I’m April Pride, join us back here on The High Guide.

Episode Credits

Producer & Host: April Pride Audio Engineer: Nick Patri, Cloud Studios Theme music: Cheri Dub, Morris Johnson

Join Our Newsletter

Women interested in Psychedelics Newsletter

Join the nearly 20,000 amazing like-minded humans who receive The High Guide email newsletter