The 20th Century saw Gay Rights and Cannabis Activism thrive. 

Whilst the two countercultures existed in the same cultural and political spaces, there are a surprising amount of overlaps that are rarely discussed. 

Here is a HOWL 101 on the the very Queer History of Cannabis.



“Some people with AIDS have a motto: ‘Die high.’” 

  • 1990 Washington Post article, “Medical Necessity and Marijuana Use”.

In the 1980s when Cannabis was illegal and there were no available pharmaceutical treatments to provide relief for AIDS victims, many people used Cannabis to alleviate symptoms and aid palliative care.

With LGBTQ+ people disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, the Queer Community had a new and urgent need to access Cannabis. 



The Cannabis community owes a lot to the thousands of LQBTQ+ activists who fought for drug reform across the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

Some of the biggest Cannabis activists were also Queer rights activists including Mary Jane Ratburn (Brownie Mary), Dennis Perone and Harvey Milk.

Without them Cannabis would probably still be illegal across North America and there would arguably be no appetite for worldwide Cannabis reform.


Before 2012, both LGBTQ+ rights and Cannabis reform stood outside of mainstream approval.

Whether it was gay marriage being illegal, or cannabis charges meaning jail time, both issues existed on the fringes of society across the globe.  

Whilst legislative reform on both issues has occurred in North America, Europe and a few other places, it’s important to remember that in many places Queer people and Medicinal Cannabis self-prescribers still live under fear of persecution.



Whilst injustice still exists, homosexuality and women’s rights have made huge progress around the world. 

In the UK, Cannabis legalisation has become synonymous with social justice activism and there is a growing appetite to legalise and regulate the recreational drug industry.



The cannabis industry has A LOT to thank the LGBTQ+ community for. 

However, despite the longstanding history of queer cannabis love, few brands honour the historical connection between two movements. 

HOWL wants to move the conversation away from ‘bro culture’ and create a space which celebrates Queerness and Cannabis together.