Chris Conrad, Dion Markgraaff and , Jack Herer at CIA (Cannabis in Amsterdam) shop in Amsterdam, 1995
It is with heavy hearts that theLeafOnline reports the unexpected death of our dear friend and fellow activist, Dion Markgraaff, who passed away in his sleep Feb. 21, 2021, at the age of 51. He was a passionate and effective hemp/CBD/Medical Cannabis/Cannabis freedom/legalization activist and cultural revolutionary.
We editors, Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris, met Dion in The Netherlands in 1993 when we worked at the Hash Marihuana Hemp Museum in Amstedam. We were designing and curating the exhibits and Dion worked on the staff, but he was juggling numerous outside projects throughout his tenure.
At that same time he also co-founded Cannabis in Amsterdam – the country’s first hemp store and a community space where they featured the “trichome challenge,” a quarter gram of hash to be inhaled in one hit and be able to hold it. According to legend, the iconic musician Willy Nelson was the only person to succeed without coughing.
1990s Amsterdam coffeeshop culture
Dion and his associates Adam Dunn and Mo could be seen riding around the city on bicycles carrying cannabis plants. On Queens Day they lit up a one-kilo joint that had to be reinforced along the bottom and held up at multiple points to keep it from falling apart as they paraded along the canals.
Those were heady days. A federal judge in the USA had already ruled that cannabis should be rescheduled. True hemp was being revived from a dying industry to an emerging business opportunity. Hemp rallies and cannabis culture were exploding in the USA and Canada.
Although growing more than five cannabis plants was illegal in Holland, Dion sued the Dutch government for the right to grow greater numbers of flowering cannabis plants at home, for purposes of making nutritious hempseed food items – and won. The Dutch government was, by then, pressing for international cannabis legalization.
Instead, the nation shifted direction, joined the newly-formed European Union and put its policies into compliance with the conservative leaders of the EU and elected a right-wing government coalition to power at home, resulting in setbacks by the start of the new Century.
Stayed active in the US and abroad
Dion was back in the USA by then and had a way of manifesting things, projects, meetings and events. He held classes and educated many about the many uses of hemp and worked for change in various places in the world, and as president of HempMeds Mexico in 2016, he helped Mexico’s medical marijuana program get going with Grace’s Law, for an eight-year-old epilepsy patient.
He organized the first San Diego medical cannabis dispensary in 1997 and started the first Americans for Safe Access chapter in 2002 in San Diego where he was based.
He worked with native groups including the White Plume hemp efforts on Lakota land. Dion guided and worked for the San Diego Company, General Hemp, in 2014. He created a large Cannabis Village at the official Earth Day at Balboa Park in San Diego that theLeafOnline attended in 2018 (and another successful one in 2017). Most recently, he was getting big time into hempcrete. He taught classes, ran demonstration programs and built a mobile hemp structure to demonstrate its hardiness and fireproof nature and later a HempChurch out of it in his backyard in San Diego. He was vice president of communications for Hemp Technologies and the founding vice president of the board at the US Hemp Building Association (USHBA).
He was a team player who greatly helped to advance the cause, supporting both California’s unsuccessful Prop 19 campaign and the Prop 64 campaign that won legalization for the state.
Dion was a regular at hemp conferences here and abroad and also contributed to a report on the global sustainability aspects of hemp and marijuana that was presented to the UN in 2019.
All things considered, Markgraaff accomplished a lot while on this planet. We are grateful that we knew him, worked with him, and considered him a true friend.
He left us unexpectedly way to soon.