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Charlo Greene on Her Canada Arrest, Finding Pot Activism, and Diversity

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“Fuck it, I quit.”

With those four words, Charlo Greene simultaneously kicked off the second act of her career in spectacular fashion while becoming an Internet sensation. In one of the biggest viral moments of 2014, the former KTVA news anchor spent her last on-air moment revealing she was the founder of the Alaska Cannabis Club and pledging to fight for legalized marijuana in Alaska.

Ever since the resignation heard around the world, Greene has made good on her promise, becoming a singular voice in marijuana activism. In addition to running Alaska’s first and only cannabis club (which celebrates its two-year anniversary in April), Greene also hosts The Charlo Greene Show (self-described as “The Oprah Winfrey Show for weed”) and runs Go GREENE, a nonprofit aimed at increasing diversity in cannabis activism and industry.

Last week, Greene caused another ripple online after she informed fans that she had been arrested in Canada and deported after a small amount of marijuana residue was found in her bag at Vancouver International Airport.

I phoned Greene to talk about her recent trouble in Canada, how she became a cannabis activist, and if she ever misses being a news anchor.

So what exactly happened in Canada?

My team and I were traveling to Vancouver for a scheduled tour organized by Phant Extracts. My dog and I got to the airport, and we’re going through things as usual. But this woman recognized me as the “fuck it, I quit” news lady. That’s probably the least convenient time I’ve ever been recognized. An airport worker hears that, and his attention shifts to my bag. So I’m standing there for three times longer than usual while he searches my things, and he finally gets to a single black sock. He pulls that out and you can see the tiny little weed specks on it. It was almost like it was a really bad movie.

He told me I was under arrest for suspicion of smuggling. They began the whole booking process, and I had to get all undressed. They put me in this room, and I contacted my attorney. Meanwhile, while I was in custody, they go through everything with a fine-tooth comb and find only the marijuana residue. They asked that I withdraw my application to enter Canada and sent me out of the country on the first flight back to the United States.

I thought it was funny that they searched your dog. What breed is he?

He’s a toy poodle, apricot-colored. A tiny little afro-ball. I’m actually surprised they didn’t find anything on him. To be honest with you, he almost always has a little bit of weed on him!

It’s been a year-and-a-half since you famously quit as KTVA news anchor. Do you ever miss it?

I loved my job as a journalist. To be a voice for my community and show other people that grew up with me that they could be more on TV than a ‘video girl” —it was everything. I became a journalist because I wanted to make a difference. You find out really quickly that’s not what you’re there to do — especially in TV news. So I was disenchanted, but I know I became a journalist so that it could lead me to cannabis activism and making a real difference.

What are some misconceptions facing cannabis culture right now?

I think the biggest one is that “‘marijuana is bad.” That’s the overarching misperception that we’re all fighting. Because of that, people aren’t able to see the medicinal benefits and all of the value that it’s adding to our economy. [Marijuana] has all these restrictive laws and penalties tied to it just because “it’s bad.” That’s where you get to where we are today — just fighting, literally, for the lives of patients and communities that are being targeted for marijuana possession and communities of color, especially.

You launched Go GREENE in 2014, an organization promoting increased diversity in cannabis activism. What does Go GREENE have in store for 2016?

Right now we’re looking for Go GREENE group leaders that are ready and willing to lead their communities through the end of prohibition. We’re preparing to launch the first few chapters in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Houston, Washington DC, and Maryland in the next few months. The revolution is taking place everywhere. If we want to really have an impact, we have a lot of ground to cover. We have to have organization. Communities of color must reach out to other communities of color to educate and say, “it’s safe.” I know because I’m here, it’s safe.

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