Here's a little Pride month history lesson for you: Back when the Plague Years were in full swing and AIDS was still a mysterious scourge, the government and medical community weren't exactly rushing to find a cure. Instead, it was queer pioneers like San Francisco's Dennis Peron who opened the first buyers clubs and dispensaries to get medical cannabis to the people who needed it most.
That doesn't mean LGBTQ folks have managed to stay at the forefront of the cannabis industry, however.
Here are six queer-owned cannabusinesses to drop that green on the finest gay and trans-friendly bud:
Founders Katie Stem and Kate Black got into the biz because Stem was looking for a way to treat her own chronic health conditions. With a background in chemistry, Western and Eastern medicine, and food science, Stem had just the skill set and knowledge base to start experimenting with medical cannabis, identifying strains and dosages that were effective in treating her Crohn's disease. In 2014, the pair founded Peak Extracts to share the results of Stem's research with the public, rolling out a line of single-strain chocolates and topical salves. Six years later, their product offerings continue to grow and evolve, carrying on that queer legacy of compassionate, community-forward cannamedicine.
PDX Green Box
When Adrian Wayman moved to Portland from Atlanta in 2012, he didn't know he was going to found a weed delivery and subscription service. He just knew that as a gay black man burnt out with his former career, it was time to leave the South. After delving deeply into the cannabis industry as a budtender and card-carrying medical user, he saw an opportunity to connect people to cannabis in a new way. PDX Green Box gives customers a chance to try a hand-selected assortment of different products in monthly subscription boxes, making it easier to find what you like or shake up your usual routine if you're already a frequent stoner.
The People's Dispensary
(6714 NE Sandy Blvd.)
Initially founded in Oakland by Christine De La Rosa, a queer Latinx transplant from Texas, the People's Dispensary recently acquired queer-founded Panacea PDX. The goal of De La Rosa and her co-founders is not only to give queer cannapreneurs a space in the industry but also to create a safe space for queer, BIPOC and other marginalized cannabis users to get the medical and recreational products they need.
The radical connection between the queer community and cannabis couldn't be clearer in the story of Trista Okel, founder of Empower BodyCare. She came up with the name for her company while jailed in Washington, D.C., in 2004 after protesting federal prohibition with Americans for Safe Access—Empower is an acronym for "End Marijuana Prohibition Organize Women Enact Reform." Today, Okel and her partner, Michele White, have grown Empower to include a line of topical CBD products, as well as THCA-infused oils, soaking salts and lotions.
Co-founded by queer feminist Lisa Snyder, inclusivity is baked into all of Tokeativity's events, which often take place at safe spaces like Escape Bar and Grill, and at private events around town. The goal is simple: to destigmatize cannabis use, especially for women and minorities who haven't historically been the most visible smokers and tokers. There's often a professional bent to its events, too, with gatherings themed on everything from cloning pot plants to speed networking for cannaprofessionals.
(234 SE Grand Ave.)
Though it's the only business on this list that is not cannabis-specific, it's worth mentioning Hawks PDX is both one of Portland's last gay bathhouses and a place you can consume in a semi-public fashion. Because it's a private sex club, Hawks skirts the consumption laws that prohibit legally firing up a doob at, say, Crush. You can certainly go the more discreet route and slather on some Empower oil before you get down to business, but you can also feel free to light up a joint on the clothing-optional patio and see where a little puff-puff-pass friendliness gets you with fellow revelers.