History has blessed us with quite a few pioneers for the advancement of cannabis in the medical field, the music industry, and industrial agriculture.
Some, unfortunately, have never had the chance to see how far cannabis legalization has come or how
their efforts have truly been impactful.
These people have dedicated their lives to a cause greater than all of us. Let’s pay tribute to them and all they have done in their lifetime for the industry.
Here is the list (in no particular order) of cannabis enthusiasts and advocates who are no longer with us.
Although not part of the SHARPNESS/100 officially, they all deserve a spot on the list.
Cannoli Frenchy was a cannabis teacher, craftsman, consultant and activist dedicated to the appreciation and production of cannabis concentrates.
After traveling the world and learning the secret art of hash making, in 2015 Cannoli started giving away his workshop, “Lost Art of Hashishin”. He has taught professional growers and home growers in the United States, Spain, the Netherlands and Canada how to harvest the cannabis plant’s resin glands, called trichomes.
He left behind two unfinished books, one a hash making manual and the other on the history of cannabis concentrates. Cannoli is also the subject of a documentary project called “Frenchy Dreams of Hashish”, which is still in the works.
Frenchy Cannoli died of complications during surgery in 2021.
Jack Herer, formerly known as the “Emperor of Hemp”, was an American cannabis rights activist and author.
His book, The Emperor wears no clothes, published in 1985, is still frequently cited in efforts to legalize and decriminalize cannabis and develop hemp for industrial use. He truly believed that hemp could be used as a renewable source of fuel, medicine, food, etc.
Herer traveled across the United States to speak with groups of other cannabis activists and organized efforts to fight the US government over the liberalization of its cannabis policy. He even ran two presidential campaigns in his life. Although unsuccessful, Herer promoted the vision of legalization.
The sativa variety Jack Herer is named in his honor and is also referred to as JH, The Jack, Premium Jack and Platinum Jack.
He died in 2010 following a heart attack.
Franco Loja was a master breeder, member of Strain Hunters and partner of Arjan Roskom of GreenHouse Coffeehouse & Seed Company.
Loja was not only a renowned cannabis scientist and cultivation expert, he was also a humanitarian who advocated for the protection of people around the world, protection from starvation, disease, and unjust treatment.
He was known to have traveled the world in search of exotic strains, forgotten genes and rare pollen. His show, Strain Hunters, documented his adventures while teaching the public about cannabis culture.
Franco Loja died of a cerebral form of malaria in 2017.
Lepp was one of the industry’s biggest advocates, a true pioneer and advocate for the use of medical marijuana.
In 1997, Lepp was the first to be arrested, tried and acquitted for growing medical cannabis under California Prop 215.
In 2004, Lepp’s Medicinal Gardens and Multi-Faith Cannabis and Rastafarian Chapel were raided by the Drug Enforcement Administration. It was considered one of the largest cannabis operations with approximately 32,500 plants, worth $130 million, serving up to 1,000 medical marijuana patients.
Lepp was sentenced to 10 years in prison at the age of 56.
In 2017, Lepp received High Times’ Lifetime Achievement Award not only for owning one of the greatest marijuana gardens of all time, but also for his ongoing fight for the legalization of the flower.
Eddy Lepp died of cancer in 2021.
From the open business of a supermarket in the 1970s to becoming a leader in the cannabis legalization movement in the 1990s, Dennis Peron influenced many people and was a major figure in the legalization of marijuana.
In 1991, he founded the country’s first public cannabis dispensary at the height of the war on drugs. The pot club distributed aid to 9,000 patients before being raided and shut down by a judge.
Peron was the driving force behind a San Francisco ordinance authorizing medical marijuana, which later helped pass Proposition 215 in 1996 that legalized medical use in the state of California.
During his late stages of lung cancer, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors recognized Peron with a Certificate of Honor and called him “the father of medical marijuana.”
Dennis Peron died in 2018 from lung cancer.
A nonbeliever turned cannabis proponent, Dr. Lester Grinspoon was a Harvard psychiatry professor whose research found marijuana to be less toxic and addictive than alcohol or tobacco.
In 1971 he published Marijuana 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 start the modern movement to legalize marijuana and inform the general public that it has been misinformed and misled.
Dr Grinspoon has been particularly advocating for the use of medical marijuana after seeing how it helped his son fight the side effects of chemotherapy during a battle with leukemia.
He had even testified as an expert witness in various legal proceedings, one of them involving John Lennon during a deportation from the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1972.
Dr. Grinspoon was an active member of NORML’s Board of Directors and the organization’s Advisory Council.
He died a day after his 92nd birthday. He has a pure sativa strain named after him, bred by Barney’s Farm in Amsterdam.
Greg Williams, aka Marijuana Man, was the leader of the North American marijuana movement.
In 1996, when it was illegal and impossible for growers to access seeds, Williams ran the Seed Desk at Cannabis Culture’s historic headquarters in Vancouver, BC. There he distributed seeds and educated people on how to grow them.
In 2002, Williams created his own Internet show called “So You Want To Grow Pot?”, which was later renamed “The Marijuana Man Grow Show.” Williams was the first to produce and host an online series about growing cannabis.
For over 11 years, Williams and his team have sold over 4 million cannabis seeds worldwide.
Greg Williams died in 2021 from cancer.
Charlotte Figi was the little girl who started a really big movement. Figi suffered from a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. When her medications weren’t controlling the seizures, her parents decided to turn to holistic medicine.
Once Charlotte started taking CBD oil, her seizures stopped. She started eating, playing and doing everything that all girls her age could do.
She became the face of all CBD possibilities when Dr. Sanjay Gupta told the world her story in the documentary film “Weed”.
The Stanley brothers, who created the strain high in CBD and low in THC enough for Charlotte to ingest, named it Charlotte’s Web in her honor.
Charlotte died aged 13 of pneumonia, which triggered seizures, cardiac arrest and respiratory failure.
Marijuana was not just a plant for 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 weed 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 defenders of his generation and continues to be so to this day.
Bob Marley died in 1981 from cancer.
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 of cannabis 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 the Garcia family and Holistic Industries. The line consists of three flower strains, pre-rolls and pick-shaped gummies.
Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack in 1995.
Tom Forcade was a cannabis activist and underground journalist in the 1970s.
In 1974 he founded High Times magazine, which was and still is one of the biggest cannabis publications in the industry. By 1977, High Times was publishing more than 500,000 copies a month and had revenues of nearly $10 million.
Tom Forcade ended his life in 1978.
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 pointed out that there was no logic behind the prohibition of marijuana and how she was racist.
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.
One of the founding members of The Wailers, Peter Tosh used his music as an outlet to advocate for equal rights and the legalization of cannabis.
In 1976, Peter released “Legalize it”, which quickly became the anthem of the legalization movement.
Peter has paid the price for his love and advocacy of cannabis in many terrible ways. He was regularly beaten by the Jamaican police for using 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 Mc Intoshcreates the Peter Tosh Foundation in honor of his father.
Peter Tosh was killed in 1987.
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