Pot Pride

in Culture

More than any big city in America, San Francisco has always been on the cutting edge of cannabis consumption––from the beats and poets smoking “mezz” while inhabiting the 1950s North Beach “beat scene” to the openly stoned hippies of 1960s Haight-Ashbury. Cannabis consumption in the “City by the Bay” continued with the groundbreaking use of medical marijuana in the Castro District to treat those affected by HIV and AIDS, leading to America’s first dispensaries. San Francisco has likewise been the vanguard for providing consumption lounges to dispensary customers, offering a place for pot patients and weed aficionados to consume in a relaxing, safe environment.

High Times Magazine, June 2023

Big Top Pot

Marijuana was always a big part of gay culture in San Francisco, but it was purely for pleasure in those hedonistic, liberating days of the 1970s. That is, until the very first cases of AIDS were reported in the city in 1980. By the mid-’80s AIDS had developed into a genuine crisis in the SF gay community, with thousands of men being infected with HIV (the virus that leads to AIDS), and developing “wasting syndrome,” also called cachexia, characterized by an involuntary loss of body weight, with prolonged diarrhea, weakness, and fever.

But hope arrived with Dennis Peron, who began dealing weed out of his apartment in the Castro, dubbed the “Big Top Pot Supermarket.” In the mid-’80s, Peron’s partner, Jonathan West, was diagnosed as HIV-positive, and cannabis helped West deal with the symptoms. Weed’s appetite stimulating phenomenon was an obvious fit to combat AIDS wasting syndrome. People with AIDS want to avoid or delay the loss of appetite from wasting syndrome because it’s a calling card that the body’s shutting down.

West passed away from AIDS in 1990, and buoyed by San …

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Author: Mark Miller / High Times

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