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Brownie Mary, Baking Change



Brownie Mary

As we celebrate this month of visibility, identity, and love, PHG would like to highlight an incredible figure who made a significant impact on both the LGBTQIA+ community and the medical cannabis movement— Brownie Mary, also known as Mary Jane Rathbun.


Mary Jane Rathbun was born in Chicago, Illinois on December 22, 1922, and moved to San Francisco in the early 1970’s. In the 80’s and 90’s, Mary devoted herself to baking and distributing cannabis-infused brownies to AIDS patients in the Bay Area, many of whom were part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Even after several arrests, Brownie Mary was never deterred from her mission.


Mary's tireless efforts went beyond just providing medicine. Her compassion and activism provided much-needed relief and comfort during a time when both AIDS and cannabis were heavily stigmatized. She was a pioneer who fought for the rights and dignity of those suffering from AIDS. She advocated for Proposition 215 which legalized medical cannabis in California in 1996. Her work saved lives and brought hope to many during the darkest days of the AIDS crisis, and was a catalyst for the beginning of cannabis reform. 


Brownie Mary is a reminder of the power of compassion and resilience, as well as the impact one person can make (or bake!) in the fight for justice and equality. As we honor Pride, let’s also honor her legacy by continuing to support and uplift each other.

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