Pride shouldn’t be limited to a single month. This is true when it comes to cannabis, too.
Rainbow-themed products are cute — we love them, too — but giving your precious consumer dollars to the companies who are owned by LGBTQ entrepreneurs year-round, instead of only during Pride month, is even cuter.
But seriously, the cannabis legalization movement in the United States owes its start to efforts from our LGBTQ foreparents during the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and ’90s. Thanks to the monumental activism efforts from California’s LGBTQ communities, Proposition 215 passed in 1996, making it the first state to legalize medical marijuana in the country. The ground for today’s burgeoning cannabis industry was laid in part by LGBTQ allies, HIV/AIDS patients, and gay rights advocates of the past.
In the modern era of legal weed, LGBTQ-owned cannabis businesses can operate proudly, or quietly, and include cultivators, delivery services, producers, manufacturers, and storefronts.
If you’re interested in celebrating and giving a nod of respect to cannabis’s and gay rights’ interwoven history, here are 5 LGBTQ-owned brands across the U.S. to consider.
The People’s Dispensary
The People’s Dispensary is not only a safe space for the queer community and marginalized consumers but one that aims to empower LGBTQ and business owners of color to open their own storefronts. TPD, as it’s called, is growing from storefronts in Portland, Oregon; and Oakland, California, to three more California stores in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Fresno; New York and New Jersey locations are also in the works.
Founded in 2016 by Christine De La Rosa, Chaney Turner, Charleen Caabay, and Michael Schlieker, the company is unique with its national equity program. “We realized in the cannabis industry, there was going to be a lot of profit for our investors, but there could be profit for the community as well,” co-founder De La Rosa told Weedmaps. “In the equity framework, everybody’s sharing. You have people with capital, like us, and you have people without capital. What if we could put those two together and help them develop their business? We have to make pathways for them to enter the market.”
Portland’s Panacea and Oakland’s Benefit Health Collective joined forces under The People’s Dispensary umbrella in 2018.
— Find The People’s Dispensary on Weedmaps
Founded in 2014, Peak Extracts is the first women-owned extraction company in Oregon. It entered the adult-use market beginning in 2016 to be among the first batch of legal licensed edibles processors. CEO Katie Stem and Chief Operations Officer Katie Black are partners in business and in life, working together for the last seven years.
Peak Extracts produces chocolates, salves, and concentrates and is best known for its strain-specific product line. Aiming to treat an array of ailments, Stem learned the effects of many strains from a decade-plus as a medical patient using cannabis to help alleviate symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Peak makes chocolate bars and cartridges with flavors and strains such as Jilly Bean, Blue Dream, Pineapple Express, Pure Kush, and Cherry Wine.
Wings of Wellness
Wings of Wellness is a Southern California-based medical marijuana delivery service founded by Leon Mostovoy, a trans man and longtime LGBTQ activist. The company offers one of the most comprehensive lists of edibles and concentrates available for online delivery, products on its menu of verified products that you can order directly on Weedmaps, including Stiiizy, Honeydew Farms, Heavy Hitters, Legacy, Plain Jane, Chong’s Choice and more, including Mostovoy’s own cannabis company, Pride Wellness.
— Find Wings of Wellness on Weedmaps
Based in Los Angeles and founded by Mostovoy and a fellow trans man and gay rights’ activist, Buck Angel, Pride Cannabis features a line of prerolls that do more than get you stoned.
Since its 2016 founding, Pride Wellness has donated $1 from each purchase to the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which serves more people in the LGBTQ community than any other center in the world, according to the center’s annual reports. Their donations focus specifically on LGBTQ seniors for the center, donating over $4,000 in 2019 alone, commemorated with a giant check handoff during L.A. Trans Pride Fest.
— Find on Pride Wellness Joints on Weedmaps
Ventoso Farms is one of the first female-run cultivators in Mendocino County, founded by Linnet Lockhart, Michelle Peqaloza, and Alex Cummings, who have more than 45 years of cannabis growing experience combined.
The company uses the hashtag #QueerToTable to highlight its team of LGBTQ-identifying cultivators producing outdoor-grown weed in the lush landscape of Mendocino County’s Round Valley in Northern California. Along with growing rare seed genetics from Bodhi, Humboldt Seed Co., and Waska Farms, Ventoso Farms also grows organic shishito peppers, corn, and cucumbers on its land.
When asked what she would change about the cannabis industry in an interview with Natural Cannabis Co., for which Venntoso was a featured farm, Peqaloza said, “I want to see more queer people, people of color, women. A lot of the stereotypical industry is very bro-y, which is very one-note, and not indicative of the people and the communities that are part of the cannabis industry, that are cultivators. Our farm is a really good representation stuff outside of that.”
While these companies are not directly owned by LGBTQ-identifying proprietors, they are powerful advocates and allies. The honorable mentions include colorful collaborations, massive donations, and cannabis companies that are committed to the LGBTQ cause and speaking to the gay cannabis community year-round.
Fruit Slabs Collab with Laganja Estranja
As seen on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in Season 6, TV personality, dancer, and drag performer Laganja Estranja has taken her glamorous cannabis influence to a unique product in her first-time collaboration with Fruit Slabs. The new flavor is called Pride Passion and it will become a permanent fixture for Fruit Slabs, an edibles company in California.
“I have always wanted to curate a delicious, healthy edible to my #BUDS,” Estranja said in a press release. “Moreover, I’ve always wanted to give back to that very community by celebrating them and their accomplishments. That’s why it’s important for the cannabis industry to recognize the LGBTQ+ community that built their very foundation, especially here in California with Proposition 215, and not just during pride season but year-round.”
— Find Fruit Slabs on Weedmaps
This Colorado dispensary chain is a beloved staple among the LGBTQ community in its home state, markedly donating over the course of a calendar year since its inception in 2016 to nonprofits including the Ray of Hope Cancer Foundation, The Gathering Place, LGBTQ advocacy group One Colorado, AIDS Walk Colorado, and others. Good Chem’s CEO Matt Huron was compelled to enter the cannabis industry after watching his father and his father’s partner suffer after being diagnosed with HIV.
— Find Good Chemistry on Weedmaps
Lowell Farms deserves a spot on this list for its new limited edition Pride joint pack. It’s not simply a rainbow pride pack, but a partnership with artist and entrepreneur Dina Rodriguez of Letter Shoppe to make a limited-edition poster to coincide, as well as donating 10% of its sales to LGBTQ nonprofit GLAAD. It’s the first time GLAAD has teamed up with a cannabis company.
— Find Lowell Farms on Weedmaps
Cannabis vape tech giant Pax Labs is donating $50,000 to the GLBT Historical Society for 2019’s Pride and in order to help the museum build an exhibit in honor of the late LGBTQ and cannabis activist Dennis Peron.
“Dennis Peron and others contributed so much to inclusiveness, diversity, and advocacy for cannabis accessibility,” Pax CEO Bharat Vasan told business news site Benzinga about the donation. Peron was a LGBTQ rights activist who fought for marijuana legalization in the ’80s and ’90s and helped Proposition 215 pass in California.
Feature image from Mercedes Mehling/Unsplash