Amazing Women in Weed-Mary Jane Rathbun

February 28, 2024

Mary Jane Rathbun (1922-1999), AKA Brownie Mary, was one of the original leading activists to lobby for legal medical cannabis.




The Grandma with a “sailor’s mouth” and an unwaivering passion for medical cannabis began her life in Chicago, born to her overly strict Catholic parents. Shortly after she was born, the family relocated to Minneapolis, where she would spend the remainder of her childhood. A fight with a Nun at her Catholic school saw her asked to leave the school, as well as her family home. After traveling across the Midwest, she settled in San Francisco during WWII. While in San Francisco, she married and gave birth to a daughter, Peggy. Shortly after her birth, the marriage dissolved and Mary Jane and Peggy relocated to Nevada. Sadly, while there, Peggy was hit and killed by a drunk driver.


The Birth of Brownie Mary


After Peggy’s death, Mary Jane moved back to San Francisco to start over again. After her return, Mary Jane worked as a waitress at a local IHOP. It was here she met and befriended cannabis activist Dennis Peron. After spending time with Peron and learning all there is to know about cannabis, she began making and selling pot brownies on the side for extra income. To boost business, Mary Jane began posting on local bulletin boards around San Franscico. As to be expected, this got the police’s attention and she was soon arrested. In lieu of jail time, they gave her 500 hours of community service at the Shanti-a support group for patients suffering from HIV and AIDS. Knowing what she did about weed, she began making and giving her pot brownies away for free to patients to ease their suffering. She enjoyed her time so much, she volunteered there until 1984, when she moved onto San Fransico General Hospital’s AIDS ward. She continued to volunteer here until she was physically unable to. During this time, she was arrested twice more. She used each arrest to bring as much local, national, and international attention to the need for medical cannabis. The last few years of her life were filled with suffering from multiple ailments. She stopped baking in 1996, when her arthritis pain became too much to work through. Mary Jane Rathbun passed of a heart attack on April 10, 1999.



Her activism helped pass Prop P in 91’, which stated that medical professionals would not be penalized for prescribing cannabis. Prop 225 came in 96’-legalizing medial cannabis in California. Her efforts helped pave the way for the legal cannabis industry we know today. She was also a major contributor for the Cannabis Buyer’s Club, which was the first legal medical dispensary in the US. Aside from her movement with cannabis, she spent her life fighting for the rights of others who were afflicted by conditions she did not have, which is her greatest legacy.


Mary Jane’s Magically Delicious Brownie Recipe

1 ⅛ cup cannabutter

½ cup 70 percent dark chocolate, chopped

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa

½ tsp salt

First, make the cannabutter. Combine 1 cup water, 1 pound unsalted butter, and 1 ½ ounces of ground cannabis flower in a slow cooker. Simmer on low for eight hours, stirring occasionally. (The longer the simmer, the more cannabinoids will be released.) Once fully simmered, use a cheesecloth or fine strainer to filter out any plant products. Refrigerate in a covered container. If water separates, discard it.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a nine-inch-by-nine-inch cake tin, and line it with baking paper. Heat the cannabutter over low heat, and when mostly melted, add the chocolate and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Remove from heat, stir in sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, and add vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients, mix thoroughly, then pour into your cake tin. Bake for 40 minutes, then let cool before consuming.

Must be 21+. Please consume responsibly.