BLUNTNESS/100: In Memoriam - Fallen Cannabis Heroes

Gone but not forgotten.
Gone but not forgotten. /

History has blessed us with quite a few pioneers for the advancement of cannabis in the medical field, music industry, and industrial agriculture. 

Some, sadly, never got the chance to see how far cannabis legalization has come or how 
impactful their efforts truly were.

These people dedicated their lives to a cause bigger than all of us. Let us honor them and everything they’ve done during their lives for the industry.

Here’s the list (in no particular order) of cannabis lovers and advocates that are no longer with us.

While not part of The BLUNTNESS/100 officially, they all deserve a place on the list.

1. Frenchy Cannoli

Frenchy Cannoli was a teacher, artisan, consultant, and cannabis activist who was dedicated to the appreciation and production of cannabis concentrates. 

After traveling across the globe and learning the secret art of making hashish, in 2015 Cannoli started giving his workshop, “Lost Art of Hashishin.” He taught professional producers and home growers in the United States, Spain, the Netherlands, and Canada how to harvest the resin glands of the cannabis plant, called trichomes.

He left behind two unfinished books, one a hash-making manual and the other about the history of cannabis concentrates. Cannoli is also the topic of a documentary project called “Frenchy Dreams of Hashish,” that is still in the works.

Frenchy Cannoli died due to complications during surgery in 2021.

2. Jack Herer

Jack Herer, formerly known as “Emperor of Hemp”, was an American cannabis rights activist and author. 

His book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, published in 1985, is still frequently quoted in efforts to legalize and decriminalize cannabis and to expand hemp for industrial use. He truly believed hemp could be used as a renewable source of fuel, medicine, food, etc.

Herer traveled across the United States speaking with groups of other cannabis activists and organized efforts to fight the US government on liberalizing their cannabis policy. He even ran two presidential campaigns in his life. Though unsuccessful, Herer promoted the vision of legalization.

The sativa strain Jack Herer is named in his honor and is also called JH, The Jack, Premium Jack, and Platinum Jack. 

He died in 2010, as a result of complications from a heart attack.

3. Franco Loja (strain hunters)

Franco Loja was a master breeder, member of Strain Hunters, and partner to Arjan Roskom of GreenHouse Coffeehouse & Seed Company.

Loja wasn’t just a renowned cannabis scientist and cultivation expert, he was also a humanitarian advocating for the protection of people across the world, protection from starvation, disease, and unjust treatment. 

He was known for searching the world for exotic strains, forgotten genes, and rare pollen. His show, Strain Hunters documented his adventures while also teaching the public about cannabis cultivation.

Franco Loja died from a cerebral form of malaria in 2017.

4. Charles Edward “OG Eddy” Lepp

Lepp was one of the greatest advocates in this industry, a true pioneer and activist for the usage of medical marijuana.

In 1997, Lepp was the first to ever be arrested, tried, and acquitted for growing medical cannabis under California’s Prop 215.

In 2004, Lepp’s Medicinal Gardens and Multi-Denominational Chapel of Cannabis and Rastafari was raided by the Drug Enforcement Administration. It was considered to be one of the biggest cannabis operations with approximately 32,500 plants, a value of $130 million, serving up to 1,000 medical marijuana patients. 

Lepp was sentenced to 10 years in jail at the age of 56.

In 2017, Lepp was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by High Times for not only owning one of the greatest marijuana gardens of all time but for his continuous fight for legalization of the flower.

Eddy Lepp died of cancer in 2021.

5. Dennis Peron

From openly dealing out of a supermarket in the 1970s to becoming a leader in the movement for the legalization of cannabis in the 1990s, Dennis Peron influenced many and was a major figure in marijuana legalization.

In 1991, he founded the first public cannabis dispensary in the country at the peak of the war against drugs. The pot club distributed aid to 9,000 patients before it was raided and shut down by a judge.

Peron was the driving force behind a San Francisco ordinance authorizing medical marijuana, which later aided the 1996 passage of Proposition 215 that legalized medical use in the state of California,

During his last stages of lung cancer, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors recognized Peron with a certificate of honor and deemed him “The father of medical marijuana.”

Dennis Peron died in 2018 of complications due to lung cancer.

6. Dr. Lester Grinspoon

Non-believer turned crusader for cannabis, Dr. Lester Grinspoon was a Harvard psychiatry professor whose research found that marijuana was less toxic and addictive than alcohol or tobacco.

In 1971, he published Marihuana Reconsidered, a book that examined the psychological, physiological, and emotional effects of the plant, and offered a sensible plan for legalization. His book pissed off President Nixon and helped launch the modern movement to legalize marijuana and inform the general public that they have been misinformed and misled.

Dr. Grinspoon especially advocated for the use of medical marijuana after seeing how it helped his son with the side effects of chemotherapy during a battle with leukemia.

He had even testified as an expert witness in various legal proceedings, one of those being for John Lennon at a United States Immigration and Naturalization Service deportation in 1972. 

Dr. Grinspoon was a serving member of NORML’s board of directors and the organization’s advisory board.

He died a day after his 92nd birthday. He has a pure sativa strain named after him bred by Barney’s Farm in Amsterdam.

7. Greg Williams, aka Marijuana Man

Greg Williams, aka Marijuana Man, was the leading man in the North American marijuana movement.

In 1996, when it was illegal and impossible for cultivators to get access to seeds, Williams ran the Seed Desk at landmark Cannabis Culture headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia. There, he distributed seeds and educated people on how to grow them. 

In 2002, Williams created his own internet show called “So, you wanna grow pot?”, which was later renamed “The Marijuana Man Grow Show." Williams was the first ever to produce and host a cannabis growing online series.

For over 11 years, Williams and his team sold over 4 million cannabis seeds throughout the world.

Greg Williams died in 2021, due to cancer.

8. Charlotte Figi

Charlotte Figi was the little girl who started a very big movement. Figi had a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. When her medication wasn’t controlling the seizures, her parents decided to turn to holistic medicine.

Once Charlotte started taking CBD oil, her seizures came to a halt. She began to eat, play, and do everything all the girls her age could do.

She became the face of all the possibilities of CBD when Dr. Sanjay Gupta told the world her story in the film documentary, “Weed.”

The Stanley Brothers, who created the strain high enough in CBD and low enough in THC for Charlotte to ingest, named it Charlotte’s Web in her honor.

Charlotte died at the age of 13 from pneumonia, which triggered seizures, cardiac arrest, and respiratory failure.

9. Bob Marley

Marijuana wasn’t just a plant to him, it was a religion. Bob Marley was a practicing Rastafarian, and Rastas use cannabis as a religious sacrament.

Spreading his love and knowledge of the herb through his music, Marley wholeheartedly believed that marijuana was the herb that would heal the nation. 

He was one of the most outspoken and prominent advocates of his generation and continues to be to this day.

Bob Marley died in 1981 due to cancer.

10. Jerry Garcia

The Grateful Dead singer was a known advocate for the legalization of cannabis. Garcia loved the social interaction found in sharing a joint, which he described as, “a bridge between him and those around him.”   

Jerry was a big fan of the flower, smoking socially and embracing the impactful role cannabis had in the music industry. 

Garcia’s family launched a cannabis line, Garcia Hand Picked in 2020, in his honor. The cannabis line is a collaboration with Garcia’s family and Holistic Industries. The line consists of three strains of flower, pre-rolls, and guitar pick-shaped gummies. 

Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack in 1995.

11. Tom King Forcade (Gary Goodson)

Tom Forcade was a cannabis activist and underground journalist in the 1970s.

In 1974, he founded High Times magazine, which has and still is one of the biggest cannabis publications in the industry. By 1977, High Times was publishing over 500,000 copies a month and revenues rising to almost $10 million.

Tom Forcade ended his own life in 1978.

12. Allen Ginsberg

Not only was Allen Ginsberg an extremely talented poet, he was a passionate marijuana advocate who helped the legalization movement in the 1960s.

In 1966, he wrote an essay for The Atlantic titled, “The Great Marijuana Hoax: First Manifesto to End the Bringdown,” where he emphasized there being no logic behind marijuana prohibition and how it was racist to its core.

He found a way to use his love for writing to advocate for cannabis change in the United States. 

Allen Ginsberg died of liver cancer in 1997.

13. Peter Tosh

One of the founding members of The Wailers, Peter Tosh used his music as an outlet to advocate for equal rights and cannabis legalization.

In 1976, Peter released “Legalize it”, which quickly became the anthem for the legalization movement. 

Peter paid the price for his love and advocacy of cannabis in many terrible ways. On a regular basis he was beaten by Jamaican police for cannabis. 

Regardless of being a target for the police, he continued to fight for his right to consume the plant.

In 2017, Peter’s daughter, Niambe McIntosh, created the Peter Tosh foundation in her father’s honor.

Peter Tosh was killed in 1987.

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