Pot brownies are one of the most notorious edibles known to #Stoner culture and its history is as deep and rich as it’s flavor, and it’s important that we acknowledge the reasons of who and why we’re able to enjoy this infused delight.
The Queer Woman / Alice B. Toklas
The use of edibles in religion and for pleasure has been around for centuries, but what is less known is that it wasn’t a popularized recipe until the "Queer Woman", Alice B. Toklas (April 30, 1877 – March 7, 1967) in the 1950s published a recipe for "Hashish Fudge" and just like that, the iconic stoner treat had its start in the United States. But it wasn’t until the 1980s, that the pot brownie as we know it was engraved into #Canna-Culture and our hearts. An audio recording of Alice reading the "Hashish Fudge" recipe can be heard Here!
The Pot Brownie Activist / Brownie Mary
Few decades later after Alice B. Toklas hit cookbook was published, "Brownie Mary" was working in a San Francisco IHOP, perfecting her pot brownie recipe in her free-time. A few years into her sales and she began to notice the health benefits of her cannabis-infused pastries for her chronically ill customers. Soon after she realized how her brownies could help the ailing, she started showing up at her local AIDS and cancer wards, brownies and fresh pots of coffee in hand.
And even though she had retired from her job at IHOP, she used he Social Security check to supply the sick with edible medicine, but just like with anything good in life, the police caught wind of Mary's charitable deeds and wanted to put an end to it.
Mary Jane Rathbun (December 22, 1922 – April 10, 1999)
Brownie Mary / Mary Jane Rathbun
Ironically, Mary Jane was her given name! On first sight was just your average grandma, with the requisite greying hair, thick spectacles, and a comfy cardigan vest, she certainly looked the part, but upon closer scan, you might also notice a clenched fist in one hand, a plate of brownies in another, and ironed onto her vest, a single #Marijuana leaf patch, one of her signature accessories.
She was born in 1922, far from countercultural San Francisco, a city that would eventually hold a municipal holiday in her honor. As a child in Minnesota, she defied authority early, hitting a nun who tried to cane her and dropping out of school to become a waitress, her career for the next 50 years.
While later in life she benefited from her unwitting, little-old-lady appearance, she was always an activist, campaigning for labor and abortion rights in her youth. Like many young, she moved to the West Coast during World War II, settling in San Francisco.
In the early 70s, "The Medical Cannabis Rights Activist" started selling brownies augmented with marijuana to make extra money. Though she was an early adopter of the edible, chocolate and #Cannabis have a long history together, going back to the notorious "Hashish Fudge" of Alice B. Toklas.
But she took her brownie baking public, advertising for customers with printed flyers. As a hospital volunteer at San Francisco General Hospital, she became known for baking and distributing cannabis brownies to AIDS patients. Eventually she attracted law enforcement’s notice.
Brownie Mary & Medical Marijuana Movement
She was often called the "Florence Nightingale of the Medical Marijuana Movement" and was a leading advocate for cannabis legalization from the 60s on, it was her work with AIDs sufferers during the 1980s for which she’s best known.
At the height of the AIDs epidemic, she used her signature marijuana brownie recipe to help reduce pain among those suffering from the disease. Eventually, the "San Francisco Police" got wind of her baking ventures and raided her home in 1981, where found 18 pounds of high-grade cannabis.
She was 57 at the time of her arrest, and the idea of sending a grandmotherly figure to jail for trying to offer comfort through her cooking didn’t sit well with the American public, she received national news and the mercy of the judge in charge of her case and was let off with 600 hours of community service.
Ten years after her arrest and she was still selling brownies but was even more involved as an advocate and became a political powerhouse. Teaming up with marijuana activist "Dennis Peron", she lobbied for the legalization of medical marijuana, she prominently contributed to the passing of San Francisco’s Proposition P in 1991, which freed physicians from the consequences of prescribing medical marijuana.
Her last arrest in July 1992 received massive coverage, and headlines no longer portrayed her as a naughty grandmother. Now, she was an AIDS activist, one who not only baked weed brownies, but normal cookies as well / Someone who held the hands of patients when they received their diagnoses and encouraged them to keep living and hoping for a cure.
Cannabis Buyers Club & Brownie Mary's Marijuana Cookbook
She ultimately was acquitted of the charges and the next month, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors declared August 25, 1992, to be Brownie Mary Day.
Together with Peron, she assisted with opening America’s first medical marijuana dispensary "The Cannabis Buyers Club" and with passing Proposition 215 in 1996, which made California the first state to legalize medical marijuana, her work inspired research into the effectiveness of medical marijuana on those with HIV and AIDS.
Even though she wrote a cookbook "Brownie Mary's Marijuana Cookbook" with Peron in 1993, Brownie Mary’s recipe remains a secret to this day.
She rallied, though, and together with Peron served as a grand marshal of the San Francisco Pride parade in 1997. When she died in 1999 of a heart attack, hundreds of people showed up to a vigil in her honor.