Charlo Greene, a news reporter who quit live on air after declaring herself as the owner of the Alaska Cannabis club, faces 24 years prison time after eight charges of “misconduct involving a controlled substance”, despite the state’s legalisation of marijuana.
Her resignation came two months before the law was announced in November 2014. “I, the actual owner of the Alaskan Cannabis Club, will be dedicating all my energy toward fighting for freedom and fairness, which begins with legalising marijuana here in Alaska,” Greene explained on the 10pm KTVA broadcast, before she added, “And as for this job, not that I have a choice, but fuck it – I quit.”
Several undercover operations, where officers purchased weed from her club on six occasions, as well as two separate raids, were carried out before the law actually came into effect in February 2015.
“It’s almost dizzying when you try to make sense of it,” she told the Guardian. “It could literally cost me the rest of my adult life.”
Greene, real name Charlene Egbe, called the case a “modern day lynching”, calling out the state of the modern war on drugs and the implications this will have in other areas of the United States that are moving towards legalisation, as well as the disproportionate targeting of people of colour and mass incarceration for such minor offences.
She told the publication that she first became interested in marijuana when she was at college, discovering that it was a viable and healthy alternative to alcohol. Her job as a news anchor increased her interest in the subject further, and after meeting with activists from states where marijuana is legal for recreational use, like Colorado and Washington, she pursued it.
“It was something I had been taking for granted – that this could literally be changing these people’s lives,” she explained. Coming into contact with a woman who was robbed after buying weed off the streets to help her with a neurological disorder impassioned her further for the cause.
Cynthia Franklin, director of the state’s alcohol and marijuana control office, also told the Guardian that the Alaska Cannabis Club, as well as two other similar businesses, are facing charges because they attempted to operate before regulations were set in place.
She said: “These people got ahead and said, ‘We’re not going to wait.’”
Greene has pleaded not guilty to the charges and will face trial in the months to come.