First, I would like to introduce myself: I am Jeffrey Peron, brother of Dennis Peron, the author of Proposition 215. I am also the father of a twenty-one-year-old son with Autism.
I have been told that we are the sum total of our memories and life experiences and that our loved ones will live on as long as we remember them. In every life there are ups and downs; I choose to reflect on the positives.
My brother and I come from suburban New York. Dennis was the second of five boys and I am the fifth. Recently, a childhood friend told me when we were growing up he thought of Dennis as a hero. Dennis was always a leader; the newspaper boys, in school, in dance contests, always and he was not shy. Dennis spent four years in the Air Force then moved to San Francisco where he led a movement for social change.
Our time here is temporary, but if we’re fortunate we can leave behind our legacy. My brother Dennis was a pioneer of cannabis legislation with the passing of Proposition 215 in 1996. He changed the attitude of the state of California, the nation and beyond. That is a legacy to be proud of.
In the weeks since my brother has passed, many people have reached out to me either through social media or in person. Like the young woman who approached me in the park. She told me how Dennis saved her from a life of opioid addiction and living on the street. The father who told me how CBD oils helped his daughter with her autism symptoms and are receiving it at school. The veteran who told me how smoking cannabis helped him get over the trauma of combat. Another man who told me how smoking cannabis helped his spouse get through chemotherapy. The athlete who related how cannabis products help him with the pain of his injuries. There are countless personal stories. I want to thank all the people that have reached out to me with your stories and memories. It touched me in a very deep and personal way.
Research is showing that cannabis products can help many conditions including chronic pain, autism, anxiety, depression, nausea, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, diabetes, PTSD, alcoholism, strokes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and the list goes on. It is true that cannabis products will not work in all cases, but neither do the traditional pharmaceuticals currently being used. Obviously, more research needs to be done. But cannabis is a schedule one substance. So little research will be done and to the best of my knowledge insurance will not cover it. Visions of Reefer Madness still continue to this day.
Modern medicine has an arsenal of drugs which include anti-pain, anti-inflammatory, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and so on. Insurance companies now regularly cover prescriptions for drugs like Oxycontin. Schools dispense drugs like Ritalin every day, even encouraging their use in some cases. Make no mistake; those are dangerous products. Most traditional pharmaceuticals can be safe and therapeutic when used correctly. Even so, when misused and, in some cases, dispensed correctly they can trigger medical emergencies. As long as cannabis is a schedule one substance, traditional pharmaceuticals will be the first choice for doctors. The chance of any cannabis product triggering a medical emergency is low.
The passing of my brother Dennis is the end of an era. Since 1996 twenty-nine states and ten countries now have some form of legal cannabis and more are on the way. This would not have come to pass without the Compassionate Use Act!
As of January 1st with the enactment of AUMA we are at the dawn of a new era. Recently, Dennis and I attended the New West Summit. We spoke to some people from Colorado who said, “I am waiting to see what California does with AUMA because California will do it right.” They also added, “California has always led the way.” But is that still true?
Dennis did not support Proposition 64; he felt cannabis would be over taxed and over regulated. Since November 2016 many people spoke to Dennis and me about the problems with Proposition 64. Compassion programs are in question, children may not be able to receive cannabis products in schools and it goes on. In my opinion, AUMA is too complicated and tried to address too many issues at once. So, we have this package deal. Maybe we like part of the package, but not others or we don’t understand the whole thing. Take the whole package or leave it is the choice. Someone said to me “It’s like we have to do their job for them and write the regulations ourselves.” But that is exactly what Californians must do! That is what Dennis did with Proposition 215. We must insist on reasonable and fair regulations. When regulations are overly burdensome, only big business can join. The black market thrives, and we invite crime.
In my opinion, when we try to address too many issues with one piece of legislation, it gets too complicated and we don’t address the different issues on their own merit. Then we a have a package deal that’s both good and bad. We should keep the focus simple and narrow.
One thing Dennis would want is for cannabis to be taken off the drug schedule. I ask you, in the name of Dennis Peron tell our elected officials at every level to take cannabis off the drug schedule, in our towns, in our cities, in our nation. Just keep it that simple! That would be a fitting end for Dennis’s legacy.
Like all good leaders, Dennis inspired others to follow. Dennis was kind, compassionate and generous. My big brother was a hero. So, if we truly are the sum total of our memories and our experiences, then I am glad to have quite a few memories with Dennis. Many people also have memories and experiences with Dennis. So, he will live on
Follow Dennis Peron, @dennisperon