Remembering how ’70s San Francisco Pot Kitchens Impacted the AIDS Crisis

And the parallels we can draw to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hippie entrepreneurs have defied the system by slanging weed-infused baked goods out of their own homes long before marijuana went mainstream. No time was this more prevalent than in the 1970s. As a child growing up in San Francisco, Alia Volz would watch as her mother baked pot brownies in their kitchen that she would sell around the city—and she had some high-profile clients, too. But Sticky Fingers Brownies was more about getting you high. As the AIDS epidemic took the country by storm, Volz’s parents’ clientele took a different shape, and soon the family found themselves at the forefront of a risky new industry. During the 1980s, Volz and her mother helped frontline activists provide medical marijuana to friends and former customers now suffering the depredations of AIDS.

Of course Volz takes medical cannabis very seriously, and is glad to know that San Francisco mayor London Breed—along with other mayors and governors around the country—have classified dispensaries and legal cannabis operations as essential businesses. She sees a lot of similarities between the era she lived through as a young child and what she’s witnessing now with the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can read more of her story here. She’s also the author of a new book entitled Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco, which hits bookstores this month.

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