Ryan Landers, who died April 2, was not a typical cannabis activist, though High Times once named him “Freedom Fighter of the Month”. A clean-cut Navy veteran of the Iraqi war who contracted HIV from a tattoo, Ryan became one of the most important patients in cannabis history when his moving testimony to the California legislature was instrumental in passing the landmark Proposition 215 in 1996. His caregiver, Jeff Patterson, in speaking at his funeral Friday in Sacramento, said it was “very sobering to see how our government works against us” when he talked about how Jerry Brown had destroyed SB420 — which Ryan had worked hard to pass — with MMRSA.

Jeff Patterson, caregiver, speaks at Ryan Landers' funeral

Jeff Patterson, caregiver, speaks at Ryan Landers’ funeral

Activists including Mollie Fry, Mike Bigg, and Tom Korby – who called him “an icon second to none” – recounted stories of Ryan’s refusal to back down in the face of adversity and his support for them and their families when they were being persecuted by the government. Kimberly Cargile remembered how she smoked a joint with Ryan on the balcony of the California State Capitol. Sioux Colombe, now running for the Sacramento City Council, credited Ryan’s influence in helping her become an activist. “He’ll not only be missed, he’ll never be forgotten,” she predicted. And Ryan’s sister Sonja Servillo thanked the entire cannabis community for helping him live 20 years with his debilitating illnesses and pain.

Ryan was also a strong supporter of The American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC), to whom donations can be made in Ryan’s name.

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