This Day in Cannabis History:
Mary Jane Rathbun—a.k.a. "Brownie Mary"—was a hospital volunteer and waitress who began baking cannabis brownies in San Francisco during the 1970s, then distributing them to terminally ill AIDS patients in the 1980s. And in the 1990s, she partnered with her longtime friend and fellow activist Dennis Peron to help open California's first medical marijuana dispensary and pass Proposition 215.
Due to her activist activities, Mary was arrested several times—the most publicized of which occurred on July 19, 1992, in Cazadero, California. A few weeks later, she testified about the benefits of medical marijuana at a hearing held by the San Francisco's Board of Supervisors. Her testimony was so persuasive that the Board not only passed a resolution to make the arrest and prosecution of medical cannabis possession and cultivation offenses the "lowest priority" for law enforcement, they also decided to recognize this beloved activist and her humanitarian work by officially designating August 25 as “Brownie Mary Day”—a holiday that's still celebrated by the cannabis community today, twenty-nine years later.
Brownie Mary was ultimately acquitted of those charges. She died seven years later on April 10, 1999, of a heart attack. She was 77 years old.