Late Sunday night, local television reporter Charlo Greene was reporting on Alaska’s marijuana ballot initiative during her newscast, when she revealed herself to be the owner of Alaska Cannabis Club, a medical marijuana collective that connects medical marijuana patients and caregivers.
“Now everything you’ve heard is why I, the actual owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, will be dedicating all of my energy toward fighting for freedom and fairness, which begins with legalizing marijuana here in Alaska,” she said. “And as for this job, well, not that I have a choice but, fuck it, I quit.”
In an online message, Greene elaborated on her dramatic exit. She said she was redirecting all of her energy toward the ballot initiative to legalize marijuana, Ballot Measure 2. That initiative will ask voters in November whether they want to legalize recreational marijuana, but Greene says she is joining the campaign for the sake of the medical community.
“I wanted to draw attention to this issue. And the issue is medical marijuana,” she told the Alaska Dispatch News late Sunday. “Ballot Measure 2 is a way to make medical marijuana real … most patients didn’t know the state didn’t set up the framework to get patients their medicine.”
What Greene means is that while Alaska was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana in 1998, it still doesn’t have a mechanism for allowing medical marijuana dispensaries, and so Greene is operating her business in what she admits is a legal “gray area.” In fact, there is no legal way to dispense pot. So while doctors are allowed to recommend pot for a very limited number of conditions — cancer, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS — individuals buy and sell it at their own risk.
Greene tried to get around this legal void in a way several state marijuana communities have, by forming a sort of collective in which patients are connected with “caregivers,” who grow the marijuana for a few patients and transfer it through the collective. The caregivers then donate the marijuana to the patients, and the Club reimburses growers for their expenses.
This November’s ballot initiative will allow possession of marijuana for recreational use. But it will also for the first time create a mechanism for legal distribution, which Greene says is equally important for the medical community.
On an IndieGoGo campaign message posted after her television appearance, Greene expresses broader support for recreational legalization — not just in Alaska but nationally. “Ballot Measure 2, the initiative to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska, isn’t just about marijuana in the Last Frontier, it’s about keeping the ball rolling on NATIONAL legalization,” she said. She notes that she has seen opponents of legalization use savvier techniques to misinform the public, and that polls are showing a swing away from legalization.
Alaska is a state with a strong libertarian streak, and in the early months, several conservatives were vocal supporters of the initiative, even though the state Republican party formally came out against it. A May Public Policy Polling survey found support for legalization winning at 48 percent to 45 percent. But an August poll by the same firm found the split flip at 44 percent support to 49 percent opposed. At the end of August, the Alaska Conference of Mayors opposed the measure, while conservatives launched a formal coalition to support legalization earlier this month.
Greene, who reveals that her real name is Charlene Egby, posted a more extended video explanation of “Why I quit.” This video doesn’t mention medical marijuana specifically. Instead, in a polished, spoken-word-style presentation, she cites liberty, freedom, arrests, and injustice as reasons for devoting her energy to ending prohibition. “Why are Americans arrested every 37 seconds, Alaskans every 4.3 hours?” she says. “Shatter and glass and green crack and BHO are to dry herb what liquor is to beer. And if responsible adults should be allowed to choose how they like to drink, why differentiate my toke from your beer?” She asks viewers to “start the conversation. Talk to a friend, a mother, a coworker, brother. Anyone. Just share your own my marijuana story. Show them that we smokers are contributing members to society.”