Former TV news reporter Charlo Greene was unapologetic when she bluntly announced on-air her resignation to be a full-time advocate and entrepreneur in the budding marijuana industry.
“F*ck it, I quit,” she quipped as she marched off the set of Anchorage’s KTVA in announcing that she would be working full time as owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club. Her 2014 exit from the news business and to weed entrepreneurship was abrupt but it symbolized a nationwide growing interest in marijuana legalization and commerce.
Greene’s move was aimed at drawing attention to the cause of cannabis legalization in her home state of Alaska— a measure that passed during the November elections that year.
Now, after being out of the spotlight for more than a year, the ex-journalist turned activist has combined her passions in The Charlo Greene Show —a production she describes as the “The Oprah Winfrey Show for weed.”
“It’s been a year and a half in the making…we’re literally going to take you on the revolutionary road with us,” Greene, 27, told EBONY.com of the show, which she plans on debuting in the fall. “It’s the marijuana revolution and it’s about so much more than smoking weed.”
According to Greene, it was reporting on what she says was a broken medical marijuana system in Alaska, that inspired her to start advocating for reform across the country. Her new show is committed to destigmatizing cannabis by shining a positive light on the cannabis community and educating viewers on the legal industry and the plant itself. It will feature activists, medical marijuana patients, industry leaders and community members in cities across the U.S. and in several countries around the world.
“We’re covering a wide range of topics and we know it’s important to show how connected the movement is in different places,” she said. “The show is going to be a bit of everywhere.”
Greene launched a monthlong Kickstarter campaign on Feb. 8 with the goal of raising $110,000 that she says will go towards hiring a full production team and purchasing a mobile studio. During each day of the campaign’s initial phase, she will release teaser videos previewing some of the content that viewers can look forward to on the show.
Initially, The Charlo Greene Show was going to be a weekly online program, but since launching the project, Greene says she has been approached by a few prominent companies that would like to bring her featured stories to television, five days a week.
But, getting the show off the ground has not been without challenges. After working with a production company and selling the show’s concept to a television network, Greene says the program was canceled almost a year into production. “They decided to drop the show after the state of Alaska decided pressed charges against me for running the Alaska Cannabis Club,” she said.
Greene, whose legal name is Charlene Egbe, was charged with several counts of possession and delivery of a controlled substance following two search warrants issued by the Anchorage Police Department in March and August of 2015. Despite the lost time and money, Greene says she has not let it slow her down from advocating for reform and bringing people’s personal experiences to light.
Tesa Brice is one such example. The Colorado mom went from cannabis skeptic to supporter. She says CBD (cannabidiol) oil was the only thing that eased the seizures her 12-year-old son, Mursy suffered due to Epilepsy and Cerebral Palsy. “I was that judgmental person once and now I’m on the other side,” Brice told Greene during one of the show’s first interviews.
Unable to afford regular treatments, Mursy’s twin Domini’Q would go to a local mall each week and dance to raise money for his brother. His efforts got the attention of the local news. An area medical cannabis company now helps supplement Mursy’s treatments, but it is still not enough. “So we share her story, her fight and continued struggle for other kids in spite of the fact that she doesn’t really have everything under control with her own,” said Greene.
In addition to the personal stories like that of the Brice family, The Charlo Greene Show will also feature segments on entrepreneurship in the cannabis industry, with a focus on women and minorities, and information on how legalization is taking shape across the U.S. “We also need to show people how legalization has been happening so that they can be prepared when they have the opportunity to impact votes,” explained Greene.
Currently, there are 23 states and the District of Columbia that allow the use of medical marijuana. Four states—Alaska, Colorado, Washington and Oregon—and the District of Columbia legalized marijuana for recreational use, according to the Pew Research Center. There are 14 states that have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana possession, some equating first-time offenses with that of a minor traffic violation. Still, marijuana possession remains illegal at the federal level.
Greene says that many in the cannabis community are focused on getting expansion initiatives passed in California—which has largest legal cannabis market in the U.S. and legalization in Florida—where a 2014 ballot measure for medical marijuana came close but failed to reach the 60 percent supermajority required by the state in order to pass.
In this election year, at least five states —Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada—are expected to vote on ballot initiatives on cannabis. For Arizona and California where medical marijuana is already legal, recreational legalization measures are expected to appear on ballots this November.
And for Greene, advocating for full marijuana legalization is just one part of a bigger picture to help end marijuana prohibition altogether. With her non-profit Go GREENE, she plans to campaign for the passage of these measures in states that will have marijuana bills on the ballot this year. “My mission is marijuana legalization now. The end of prohibition is inevitable. The question is how soon is it going to happen and how is going to happen,” she said.