Marin County AIDS and medical marijuana activist Barbara Sweeney died July
21 at Marin General Hospital from pancreatitis. She was 49.

Ms. Sweeney is survived by her 12-year-old daughter, Cassie, who will be
raised by guardians that her mother selected in the final years of her
13-year battle with AIDS and hepatitis C.

Ms. Sweeney helped start and manage the now-defunct Flower Therapy clinic
in San Francisco for medical marijuana. She was named by activist Dennis
Peron as one of the people who inspired him to co-write state Proposition
215, the 1996 voter-approved initiative that legalized the medical use of

Friends said Ms. Sweeney frequently spoke about AIDS prevention at local
schools, jails and prisons.

In 1992, Ms. Sweeney was arrested for growing two marijuana plants, which
she used to alleviate the nausea from her medications, but friends said the
Marin County district attorney's office had declined to prosecute. On Oct.
11, 1992, the town of Fairfax passed a resolution supporting the use of
medical marijuana.

Longtime pal Stephenie Hendricks, an independent television producer,
recalled an early 1990s episode of "Bay TV," the talk show with TV anchor
Pete Wilson, where Ms. Sweeney spoke about medical marijuana with former
U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello.

"She reached into her bra and pulled out a joint, lit it and blew smoke in
their faces, saying, 'If you guys don't mellow out, you're going to get
heart attacks,' " Hendricks recalled. "I'll never forget the look on Pete's
face -- it was priceless, and Barbara was giggling with glee."

Pam Lynott of Larkspur, who helped out at Flower Therapy, which served
about 3,000 people at its peak and operated from 1996 to 1999. Along with
providing a safe place for people to take their medicine, the clinic hosted
Sunday potluck dinners and Christmas, Thanksgiving and St. Patrick's Day

"She was a very dear friend of mine," Lynott said. "She had spunk and a
heart of gold."

Ms. Sweeney was born May 4, 1953, in Bronx, N.Y. She graduated from Brown
University in Providence, R.I., with majors in political science and education.

Friends said Ms. Sweeney was diagnosed with HIV in 1989 when she became
pregnant. She believed she had been infected by her former husband, who
used intravenous drugs.

Ms. Sweeney moved to Marin County about 20 years ago, most recently living
in Fairfax.

Visitation hours are tonight from 7 to 8:30 at Mount Tamalpais Cemetery in
San Rafael, followed by a private memorial service. In lieu of flowers,
donations are requested for a college fund for Cassie Sweeney at the
Fairfax branch of the Bank of America, located at 89 Broadway.

Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jul 2002
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2002 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Pamela J. Podger, Chronicle Staff Writer