Who Is Brownie Mary?

Mary Jane Rathbun is also known as Brownie Mary, considered to be one of the most influential persons in the culture of cannabis. She has worked hard to spread awareness about the cannabis plant. Brownie Mary was a medical cannabis activist and edibles pioneer. She first appeared publicly back in the 1980s. Also considered a must part of cannabis folklore.

Early life of Brownie Mary:

Not every detail about her is on record. She was an activist right from an early age. Raised in a working neighbourhood after she was born in 1922. When she was just a teenager, she left her parents’ home to find her destiny. Her fights for abortion and the right to unionized are incredibly remarkable.

She had a daughter to feed when her husband left her forever. It was this era when she started making pot brownies. Her brownies become the talk of the town in no time. In the 1980s. she used to bake 600 brownies on daily basis. People usually come to collect their brownies from her home or she used to put them into the basket and sell them on the streets. It was the year 1974 when she met another cannabis activist Dennis Person. 

Unfortunately, local Police started to notice her when her popularity being the baker of brownies was at its peak. On January 14, 1981, a cop in the form of a customer came to buy. Police then seized 18 pounds of weed. Her arrest was such a disaster in her life.

How did she got involved into medical cannabis activism?

The punishment for her arrest was 500 hours of community service. She spent most of those 500 hours with the patients who had life-threatening illnesses. This service provoked her to work for the gay community having HIV, whom their families left. In 1970, Mary lost her only daughter in a car accident. After her death, Mary started working for HIV patients. 

Those gays told her that her brownies helped relieve their pains, and those brownies were also boosting their hunger. Cancer patients also reported the same. Unfortunately, she under arrest once again in 1992 when she was delivering brownies to cancer patients.   

“I know from smoking pot for over 30 years that this is a medicine that works,” Rathbun explained to the Associated Pressin a 1992 interview. “It works for wasting syndrome. The kids have no appetite, but when they eat a brownie, they get out of bed and make themselves some food. And for chemotherapy, they eat half a brownie before a session, and when they get out, they eat the other half. It eases the pain. That’s what I’m here to do.”

Joining forces:

Mary along with her close friend and cannabis activist Dennis Peron started a campaign to legalize cannabis. In the early 1990s, Peron worked to educate AIDS advocacy groups such as ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) about the therapeutic benefits of cannabis for easing AIDS symptoms. After a lukewarm reception from ACT UP, Peron invited Rathbun to share her firsthand experiences distributing cannabis to those with AIDS. Together, the two activists began to shift views of cannabis, which has been classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance since 1970. 

Medical professionals also started taking interest in Mary’s efforts. A number of medical professionals started researching on the effects of cannabis on AIDS patients.

An enduring legacy:

It was the year 1999, when Mary left the world after having a heart attack but her legacy is still here. Her trust in the healing properties of cannabis, helped her a lot to introduced law reforms.  

“For decades, compassion programs have played a critical role in helping low-income people with serious medical conditions access their medicine,” Wiener stated. “Taxing programs that give away free medical cannabis, and thus have no revenue, makes no sense and has caused far too many of these programs to close. SB 34 will allow compassionate care programs to survive and serve those in need.”

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