In 1991, amid the AIDS crisis in San Francisco, a former jazz and blues singer named Lynnette Shaw was hired as the intake officer at the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club, California’s first medical marijuana dispensary.
The modest Cannabis Buyers Club would eventually transform into a flamboyant weed emporium on Market Street that founder Dennis Peron dubbed “the five-story felony.” Shaw, who would partner with Peron in backing California’s Proposition 215 medical marijuana law, went another direction months before the initiative passed in 1996. She ventured across San Francisco Bay to establish California’s first locally permitted and regulated medical marijuana provider.
Peron eventually drew the ire of state narcotics officers, who raided his club. Shaw and her small-town marijuana dispensary, serving patients with HIV, cancer and other illnesses, drew something else: a nearly two-decade legal battle with the United States Justice Department.
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