Dennis Peron – a few words in Memorium for a charismatic activist

Dennis Peron is/was charming, fearless and charismatic
Dennis Peron is/was charming, fearless and charismatic speaking at a Hemp event in Olympia, WA 1996 – as seen in HempenRoad

Dennis Peron – who clearly made a global impact with his efforts to normalize medical cannabis – died

An exceptional public speaker with charisma for days, goodly Dennis Peron (as seen in my documentary HempenRoad film) speaking at a Hemp event of some name or another in Olympia, Washington in 1996, just before Prop 215 passed – which was the (arguably i suppose) first big domino to fall in the cannabis legalization / normalization movement. He stood up to the government stooges with bravado and vigour and rallied disparate communities to the crusade with compassion as the central theme – a brilliant communications strategy among other things.

Dennis Peron at the podium
Dennis Peron at the podium, Oly Hemp Something, Olympia, WA 1996 – as seen in HempenRoad

Was charmed and captivated by his style and amazed at his polished & nuanced public speaking style with frankness & subtle wit. Serious topics delivered with casual ease and fierce determination. A pro in a league (at that time) of well-intentioned amateurs.

When making my lil film i wanted to give new voices a chance to share their stories and as such, avoided the then “big timers” who were churning out books and on the pulpit banging circuit, but wanted to include him as he was “not a hippie” and coming from a different direction at the problems than the usual suspects. He was gracious with his time and invited us to come to California to film part 2 – something i so very much wanted to do but never happened.

Dennis Peron in Capitol atrium
Dennis Peron in Capitol Building atrium, Olympia, WA 1996 – as seen in HempenRoad

He lived long and well but (as we all will) succumbed to a health conundrum a few days back – as i live elsewhere in the world most of the time these past years i lost track of his actions but when asked about him in SF a couple of years back, he was spoken of in revered terms usually reserved for mafia dons. Be it known, there are not many of us who can pass away knowing we changed the course of history and he is definitely one who can. He likely didnt remember our encounter (or maybe even see the film) but he made a significant impact on me as an activist and communicator.

Dave Olson looks on as Dennis Peron speaks in Olympia, WA 1996
Dave Olson looks on as Dennis Peron speaks in Olympia, WA 1996 – as seen in HempenRoad

Glad he lived to see the results of labours – while situation not perfect by any means, at least folks in majority of states can access medical cannabis safely(ish) – and/or can relocate to said states… and in many states everyone can (as he says in the doc) “self-titrate.”

PS See his bit in HempenRoad and witness charm in action at the Olympia Hemp (something) at Capitol Bldg in 1996. Go to 35:55 minute mark.