Last night, after hosting a segment on the effort to legalize weed in Alaska, local KTVA news anchor Charlo Greene quit her job in true “fuck you, fuck you, you’re cool” fashion. Charlo went off script and told her Alaskan audience, on live TV, that she owned Alaska’s only cannabis club and that she would be leaving the news world behind—in order to put all her energy towards supporting the marijuana legalization movement in Alaska. Effective immediately, Charlo has begun a new life advocating for the movement by continuing to run the only weed dispensary in the home state of Sarah Palin. Before signing off, she also added: “Fuck it, I quit.”
Unsurprisingly, the mix of weed, unexpected swearing on live local news, and the thrill of someone quitting their job scorched earth style, resulted in Charlo’s final news broadcast going viral. So, we caught up with her earlier today to talk about her decision to bail on the glamourous life of local news reporting, her cannabis club, and the legalization movement in Alaska.
VICE: So when did you start the cannabis club?
Charlo Greene: We purchased a business license on 4/20/2014!
How's the business been going?
It’s been going great! Well enough for me to feel comfortable in walking away from a career that I’ve spent all my adulthood building.
Why did you decide to quit in such an extravagant fashion?
[Laughs] To draw attention to the issue. You, as a journalist, know that all of us are replaceable. The people aren’t really going to miss you, or me, or any random reporter for the most part. So why not just use the position I was put in to make sure that my next chapter is just wide open for me?
What was the aftermath like in the studio?
Thank goodness it was on a Sunday night when most of the people were in the downstairs studio. I was doing my live hit in the upstairs one, so I didn’t see anything happening in the actual newsroom itself, but there were a couple of higher ups that were on my floor that were kinda freaking out—a little panicked. The phones were ringing off the hook, and I was escorted out. That was it.
And there’s been no fallout since?
The station took down my bio and all that stuff, but no one has been in touch with me.
That’s good. Did you see their tweet saying that you had been terminated?
[Laughs] Yeah. [Laughs some more] I saw that. That was stupid.
It’s pretty rich, I think.
[Laughs] Yeah, and then the fact that there’s so much support… if you just go and look at the tweet they made, you’ll see the response is, “No, you guys got it wrong. She just quit. We heard it. We saw it.”
It’s really cool to see how many people are rallying behind this. I kinda did something that all of us, at least at some point or another, always wished we could do. Like, “Fuck it, I’m done. This is dumb. I’m going to do something else. I’m going to be my own boss. I’m going to make a difference because I have the opportunity to do so.”
So why don’t we talk about that opportunity. How did you get into cannabis in the first place?
I’m Alaskan. Alaskans smoke weed. It just is what it is. But I first tried it when I was in high school, and I didn’t like it at all, so I quit completely and I just drank like, a ton, which is also a really big issue here in Alaska. It got to the point when I was in college that I’d been drinking so much I ended up not even going to class, I failed out of an entire semester and I took a really heavy course load. Out of seven classes, I failed all of them, except for gym, and that’s only because he felt sorry for me.
I knew that alcohol, as a vice, wasn’t going to allow me to become the person I was meant to be. So I needed something else to do that maybe wasn’t so harmful, and I picked up smoking weed. I went from failing an entire semester, to the next semester, and every semester after that, being on the Dean’s List. I graduated cum laude... And that’s because I was smoking weed! I sat my ass at home and did what I needed to do, and I never woke up with a hangover because of it, or got behind the wheel and ran over a family or anything because of it.
Charlo, surrounded by green. Photo via Facebook.
Do you have medicinal reasons for smoking or is it all recreational?
I think recreational is a funny term, because who’s to say that you sitting down and smoking a joint, and it having a relaxing effect on you, is any different from you popping a Zoloft? You wouldn’t call popping a Zoloft recreational—well, you probably would…
I know what you’re getting at, though.
So mine’s medical. I think pretty much everyone that smokes weed is doing it medically.
For people who aren’t up on the situation in Alaska, what is the latest on the effort to legalize there?
Polling is showing that support is slipping, that’s why I stepped away from my career. Otherwise I would have just been behind the scenes [in the media] the entire time, just making sure the fear mongering, and the non-facts they put out there that journalists never want to do the work to actually fact check themselves—I would have just stayed there to make sure it’s a fair fight. But polling has been showing that the fear-mognering is working, so I had to step away to make sure that Alaskans know what’s really at stake. And the opportunity that is ahead of us.
Are you optimistic?
Oh yeah. If you were to look at our Facebook messages, and our comments, and the emails that we’re getting, it’s people that have never cared to vote. Like, “You have balls, and I am registering to vote, let’s go and do this. I’m behind you.” We already know that we’re shifting things back to the right side of where it should be, and getting the support behind legalizing marijuana in Alaska on November 4th.
Great! Do you have a favourite strain?
A favourite strain… I’m gonna go with Jack. Jack Herer. It’s a classic.
It sure is. So I presume your cannabis club is all private membership right now?
It is. For now, until we vote to legalize it. The medical side is always going to be running. We’re planning on branching out and getting into retail of course. But we need to ensure our medical marijuana patients aren’t screwed over when this vote is passed. This initiative makes no differentiation between medical and recreational marijuana.
Voters in Alaska decided to legalize medical marijuana back in 1998, and 16 years later the state hasn’t set up any framework for them to be able to get it—to allow any dispensaries. They were screwed over then. This effort, this ballot measure, cannot screw them a second time. I’m not going to let that happen.
Right on. Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to quit their job in a spectacular fashion?
Do it big. If you’re going to quit your job, do it big. Why not? Your job probably sucks, so go ahead and get whatever you can out of it. If your job gives you access to information that might help wherever you’re going to go next, then get that! If you’re just a cog in this massive machine, and you know you’re replaceable, and you’re treated that way. Then replace them. Be brave. Be ballsy. And make sure you’re going to be okay afterwards.
Follow Patrick McGuire on Twitter.