Lynette Shaw is one of the most important pioneers of the medical cannabis movement.
Known as Godmother Ganga, Shaw opened the first licensed medical cannabis dispensary, Marin Alliance CBC, thanks to a law she helped create.
Shaw’s relationship with cannabis began years before her calling when she began selling cannabis at the age of 14. Leaving home at a young age, her gift for music led Shaw to Hollywood, where she continued selling marijuana on the side while working on a singing career.
In 1981, John Belushi invited Shaw to be a backup singer with The Blues Brothers. Tragically, she was only in the band for one month before Belushi passed away. The seeds for Shaw’s activism were sown in 1990 when she met Jack Herer. His groundbreaking book The emperor does not wear clothes She confirmed her belief that cannabis is a drug. Those seeds began to blossom when she was introduced to Dennis Perron, a gay Vietnamese turned political activist who was fighting for the legalization of cannabis and LGBTQ rights in San Francisco.
In 1991 Shaw began working with a fellow activist Triple gravel At San Francisco’s Byron Cannabis Buyers Club – the first illegal dispensary in the country. At the time, AIDS was wreaking havoc on the gay community and had claimed the life of Perron’s partner, Jonathan West, the year before.
She taught Byron Shaw how to apply pressure, and went door-to-door in Sacramento, meeting with senators and hearing from patients about how cannabis helped them manage painful symptoms associated with AIDS. In September 1995, Shaw helped Peron open Prop 215 Campaign headquarters in San Francisco, and in July 1996, they opened another headquarters in Fairfax. Victory came to the campaign on November 5, 1996, when Proposition 215 passed with 55 percent of the vote, making California the first state to legalize medical cannabis for approved patients.
In 1997, Shaw opened its first legally licensed dispensary, Marine CBC Alliancein Fairfax, Marin County. CBC stands for Cannabis Buyers Club in tribute to Perron, her close friend and mentor, who passed away in 2018.
A 2011 campaign led by US Attorney for the Northern District of California Melinda Haag shut down the Marine Alliance and Shaw was banned for life from working in the industry she helped create. But, in 2015, US District Judge Charles Breyer decided the injunction was unenforceable as long as it was a congressional ban on spending money to challenge California’s medical cannabis law, and the ruling was overturned.
Marin Alliance CBC reopened in 2017 with support from the local community and patients, and the tireless Shaw continues to operate it to this day.
This story was originally published in Issue 44 printed edition of hemp now.