Obituary: Medical Cannabis Pioneer And Seattle Icon JoAnna McKee Has Passed

WASHINGTON:  JoAnna McKee, Medical Cannabis Pioneer and Seattle Icon, has passed away. JoAnna cofounded Green Cross Patient CO-OP with her partner Stich Miller in 1993, after seeing a news report mentioning a medical cannabis dispensary in Seattle but not being able to locate an active dispensary.

When JoAnna and Stich spoke with the Seattle AIDS Support Group, a patient said he was looking for a dispensary in order to help combat wasting syndrome, and JoAnna said they were looking for a dispensary to donate medical cannabis to.

That night, Green Cross Patient CO-OP was born.  The organization would request that patients get a note from the Doctor stating they know the patient is using medical cannabis, and JoAnna would call the doctor’s office to verify the doctor’s signature.

In 1995, JoAnna made the news by collecting signatures for a medical cannabis initiative. A local DEA agent saw the news and had a Kitsap County Sheriff raid their home in which they confiscated 140 pot plants; however, inside the home the sheriff deputies hid the medical cannabis that was packaged in bottles around the house. The case was dropped due to insufficient evidence – this would be the first Medical Cannabis Dispensary Raid in the U.S.

In 1997, Green Cross National Safety Council filed a lawsuit against Green Cross Patient CO-OP for copyright infringement, because of the similarity in name and the green cross logo. JoAnna contacted them and brokered a deal in which they agreed JoAnna could use the name Green Cross, but it had to include Patient CO-OP, and she was required to make minor edits to her logo. This would be the first copyright infringement case involving cannabis.

The Indispensable Leader Of The Marijuana Movement

by Fred Gardner

CALIFORNIA: Last weekend at the Emerald Cup, a sprawling hempfest held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Dennis Peron got a lifetime achievement award and I got to present it. The marijuana legalization movement would not have achieved its great breakthrough in 1996 had it not been for Dennis, the founder and maitre’d of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club.

Proposition 215, the ballot initiative by which California voters legalized the herb for medical use that November, was for sure a collective effort; but Dennis’s biography and personal fearlessness made him the indispensable leader. He had been challenging the marijuana laws by direct action since 1969, when he came back from Vietnam with two pounds in his Air Force duffle bag, and by legal and political means since 1970, when he was first busted by the SFPD narcs.

Dennis simply refused to accept that anybody —no cop, no district attorney, no judge— could tell him he didn’t have a right to smoke marijuana. “And the right to smoke it means the right to get it,” he would explain, “which means people have to have the right to grow it and sell it.”