.. and ,The SF Hash Week Pioneers of Pot check-in challenge is a gamified self-guided cultural travel adventure that celebrates the cannabis legalization movement and the pioneers that paved the way.

Advocating for safe cannabis medicine access for patients in San Francisco back in the 1980s and 1990s is what led to the recreational 21+ cannabis access that we enjoy today.

Enjoy the Pioneers of Pot walking tour adventure, brought to you by The Cannabis Trail in partnership with SF Hash Week, and Powered by Explore! 

Get elevated and take an immersive cultural cannabis walkabout. Learn about Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary and the community of inspiring activists and outlaws who re-legalized medical cannabis for suffering patients in need.

The SF Hash Week Pioneers of Pot Check-in Challenge

  1. Prior to embarking on your adventure, watch The Secret Story, a 15-min short doc
  2. Visit cannabis landmarks and points of interest
  3. Check-in at three places and collect a Pioneer badge at each place on the map.
  4. Collect three pioneer badges and win…
  5. …a 2024 SF Hash Week Patch, limited edition, while supplies last.

If you complete the challenge, your commemorative SF Hash Week 2024 Patch must be picked up inside Flore Dispensary by 8pm on 7/30/24.

#1. FLORE DISPENSARY - 258 Noe St, San Francisco, CA 94114


Flore Dispensary is a Cultural Cannabis Landmark and home to the Compassion Monument along The Cannabis Trail. The Compassion Monument is a 37 ft by 17 ft art mural installation that honors the shared cannabis history between San Francisco patients and Humboldt County pot farmers during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s.

Just across the street from Flore Dispensary is where the infamous Cafe Flore once was. Back in the day, Cafe Flore was THE community gathering place for the LGBTQ+ community. It was where the queer community came together for cultural moments, like the White Night riots, and to trade information during the early days of the HIV / AIDS epidemic.

Cannabis was on the front lines of the epidemic. In a time of need, cannabis had the ability to stimulate appetite, extend patients’ lives, and ease suffering. It made people feel better when there was nothing else. Cannabis was THE first effective medicine on the frontlines of the HIV / AIDS epidemic, which led to the legal cannabis landscape of today.

Brownie Mary first met Dennis Peron on the patio of Cafe Flore over a shared joint. That moment sparked a partnership that would change the course of cannabis history. Brownie Mary’s infamous sparkling cannabis brownies provided relief to countless AIDS patients, earning her the nickname Angel of Mercy. Dennis Peron is known as the Father of Medical Marijuana. 

Dennis was a gifted community organizer and was close friends and political allies with Harvey Milk and George Moscone. After her third bust in 1992, Brownie Mary became the face of the compassionate cannabis movement for the media, advocating for legal cannabis access for patients in need.  Dennis and Brownie Mary led the charge for Proposition 215 – The Compassionate Use Act that re-legalized cannabis in California.

Badge:  Dennis Peron

Flore's patio is where Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary first met.

#2. DUBOCE TRIANGLE PARK - Scott St, San Francisco, CA 94114


Our story begins in 1967, during the Summer of Love, when Dennis Peron visits San Francisco on a 30-day leave from the military. Radicalized by witnessing the horrors of the Vietnam War, Dennis finds himself drawn to the free love vibrant energy of the Haight Ashbury. He established a cannabis-centric commune on Oak Street named the Big Top Commune.

The Big Top Commune was a free love cannabis-friendly hippy haven for flower children and their families during this era. In 1974, law enforcement raided The Big Top commune which led to Dennis Peron’s arrest and the confiscation of seven pounds of cannabis.

Iconic human rights attorney Tony Serra, renowned for his defense of counter-culture underdogs, stepped in to represent Dennis and The Big Top Commune. Tony Serra negotiated the release of 43 detainees, the Big Top Commune family, and secured a favorable outcome for Dennis Peron. 

Tony Serra went on to be Dennis Peron’s attorney multiple times in the years ahead. From 1976 to 1996 Dennis Peron was arrested 26 times and shot by law enforcement due to his pro-cannabis work and human rights advocacy. Tony Serra does not believe in always paying income taxes. In 2005, in protest, he served 10 months in Federal Prison for not paying taxes. He spent that time educating inmates about the law and their rights.

Badge:  Tony Serra

#3. THE ISLAND CAFE - corner of 16th and Sanchez Streets


This iconic spot, named after Aldous Huxley’s famous utopian manifesto and novel, was not just a place to indulge in cannabis and dream about a better world, but also a hub for vegan low price food, activism and community organizing. Anyone who visited The Island Cafe was encouraged to do two things 1. register to vote  2. smoke pot.

At The Island Cafe, activists like Brownie Mary and Dennis Peron brought together the San Francisco neighboring counter-culture communities, bridging the gap between the hippies of the Haight Ashbury and the gays of the Castro. It also became a hangout for touring musicians. Cannabis was at the center of it all. The Island Cafe was a place where political movements were born, from the Save the Whales campaigns to Harvey Milk’s bid for mayor.

For a time, Peron’s Island Cafe was Harvey Milk’s campaign headquarters. It is believed that Dennis Peron was secretly a regular financial contributor to Harvey Milk’s political campaigns, all underground pot money. Peron was a kingpin of the cannabis underground. They both believed strongly in human rights, patient dignity, and safe access for all to medical marijuana.

Badge:  Harvey Milk

The Island was a gathering place for the queer and cannabis communities.



The Castro Castle is a symbol of community and compassion. It was here that the queer cannabis community gathered and strategies were created to drive positive change and safe access for patients. 

At the Castro Castle we honor the work and legacy of Dennis Peron and his partner Jonathan West, and the loyal community of human rights activists they built around them in the Castro. Sadly Jonathan West died from AIDS, but the relief that cannabis brought him was central to Dennis Peron’s continued advocacy work in medical cannabis, and his work on Proposition 215 to West’s memory. 

Shortly before Jonathan’s death, he testified in court in a case brought on after a raid on the Castro Castle. The judge threw out the case after seeing the state he was in, and this marked a pivotal moment in the fight for medical access to cannabis. 

We honor the work of John Entwistle Jr., Dennis Peron’s husband and lead strategist for Proposition 215: The Compassionate Use Act. Their tireless efforts paved the way for the legalization of medical marijuana in California and beyond, ensuring access to medicine for those patients in need.

The Castro Castle is a historic location in the cannabis movement. It is the home of the cannabis community and other supportive leaders and allies. Compassion, community, and activism are in the DNA of this hallowed ground.  In the backyard visitors will find Dennis Peron’s psychedelic garden and beautiful cannabis murals known as the Castro Castle Murals adorn the walls, an illustrated historical timeline of the cannabis legalization movement.

Badge:  Jonathan West

The Castro Castle


Castro & Market

At the intersection of Castro & Market you will come upon Harvey Milk Plaza. Across the street is an art installation and in the sky in front of you is a large waving rainbow flag in the sky. Take time to pause and people watch, enjoy! The Castro is a fun and distinct sub-culture and this is the gateway to the heart of it. 

Gilbert Baker is the creator of the original rainbow flag. The original rainbow flag version included turquoise and pink stripes. Created in the 1970’s, Gilbert Baker refused to copyright or intellectually protect the rainbow flag symbol because he wanted it to spread freely and widely as a symbol around the world as fast as possible, uniting communities and symbolizing unified LGBTQ+ Pride. Today there are over sixty flags that represent different segments of the LGBTQ+ community.

Near the corner of Castro & Market you’ll see Catch restaurant. This exact location is where the The Names Project happened, also known as the AIDS Memorial Quilt, an effort led by human rights activist and LGBTQ+ pioneer Cleve Jones. A portion of the Quilt is still on display inside Catch to celebrate the history. Considered the largest community arts project in history, the AIDS Memorial Quilt helps us remember the unique lives and stories of those we’ve lost to HIV/AIDS. Like Dennis Peron, Cleve was an ally and friend of Harvey Milk. 

Badge:  Gilbert Baker


18th & Castro

As you ramble toward the heart of the Castro, notice names of shops and stores that line Castro Street. The names of the businesses themselves are a patch work of queer culture, valuing freedom of expression and unapologetic authenticity. 

The heart of the Castro is 18th and Castro, where Brownie Mary once often stood offering her ‘magically delicious sparkling brownies’ to those in need. Here in the heart of the Castro we honor Mary Jane Rathbun, better known as Brownie Mary, whose cannabis brownies brought relief to AIDS patients during the public health crisis of the 1980s. She affectionately called the patients ‘her kids’, many of whom were estranged from their families for being gay and suffering from a devastating illness. Her tireless advocacy paved the way for the compassionate use of medical marijuana.

Wander up to the corner of 19th & Castro and find the Castro ‘Doll Window’ display of statues and figurines that celebrate Castro’s vibrant diverse characters and social movements.

Badge:   Brownie Mary & Her Kids (The Patients)

Brownie Mary Article


Dolores park has become a popular gathering place for the LGBTQ+ community, hosting numerous events, rallies, and celebrations, especially during Pride Month and other significant dates. Over the years, Dolores Park has become a symbol of inclusivity and acceptance, reflecting the broader culture of San Francisco.

During the 1960s and 1970s, San Francisco was a focal point for the counterculture movement specifically, and cannabis was center stage. Dolores Park became known as a place where people could openly consume cannabis, reflecting the city’s progressive attitudes toward marijuana.

Dolores Park has been a popular spot for 4/20 cannabis celebrations, where people gather to celebrate cannabis culture openly and freely on April 20th. A different kind of experience than the iconic Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park.

Let us take a moment to reflect on cannabis pioneer, Alice B Toklas, cannabis edible visionary and the original ‘Mother of the Pot Brownie’.  Many believe the term ‘to toke’ originates from Alice B Toklas and her inspiring cannabis advocacy work. Born in San Francisco in 1877, in 1954 Toklas published The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook which includes a recipe for hashish fudge.

Badge:  Alice B. Toklas

Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas


Thank you for joining us on this Pioneers of Pot journey through the history of cannabis and compassion in San Francisco. May we remember and honor our pioneers that made legal cannabis access possible. What’s remembered and spoken about, lives on!

Happy SF Hash Week!

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