Right after the pandemic took hold in the US in March 2020, I happened across a Facebook post with a link to music living legend and cannabis activist/entrepreneur Melissa Etheridge singing some of her biggest hits—including “Come ToMy Window”—from her home. As it happened, I was just then sitting by a window looking out at the frightening, uncertain future everyone on the planet faced because of COVID-19. But I felt better because Melissa Etheridge was in the fight with me. And, as everyone knows, the woman never loses a fight. Somehow, I knew that eventually, it would all be OK.
Two years since that soul-enriching social media home concert, I decided to check in on Etheridge, and ask her about the industry she’s known so well for so long. Her popular cannabis brand, Etheridge Botanicals, offers flowers and pre-rolls, and has also now spawned a CBD sister company, Etheridge Organics.
I caught up with the multiple Grammy winner at her home in Los Angeles shortly after Etheridge released her latest album, One Way Out. She was, as always, ready to go.
Cannabis Now: For a lot of people, your cannabis use represented a conduit to the entire discussion about legalizing marijuana. Do you consider yourself a pioneer, and with so many people finally on board to legalize cannabis, do you feel vindicated because you were, in fact, right all along?
Melissa Etheridge: Oh, wow, I certainly don’t look for vindication. I think that for a whole number of people, I was able to give voice to cannabis legalization, and I was able to give the issue more spotlight on it. But, make no mistake, there are a lot of people who’ve been working at this for decades, who’ve given their lives for this cause—who’ve even spent time in prison—who truly understand this issue and want to bring full federal legality to this. But, yeah, I clearly think we still have a long way to go.
Specifically, how does cannabis have a long way to go?
The cannabis industry as a whole is in the middle of trying to figure it all out, and without federal legalization and no easy pathway to fully access banking in the cannabis industry, all of our hands are tied in this industry. Look, the Canadians are way ahead of us, and they keep coming here to the US and buying everything up in the cannabis industry.
It’s such a difficult situation because it seems that people of color—yet again—are out of the money-making loop. It’s just the same group of people who seem to always make the money in every industry.
Exactly! Yeah, it’s just, like, c’mon! Where’s the fairness?
Tell me how Etheridge Botanicals evolved from having exclusively cannabis offerings into now also having a CBD brand with the launch of Etheridge Organics?
Well, 15 years ago, I started getting into the cannabis industry by joining the fight for cannabis legalization and all that really went deep into the community, especially up in Northern California and Santa Cruz and Humboldt County and meeting these beautiful people. After seeing how the industry started doing the extractions, I and other folks realized that, in essence, we can actually grow something of very high quality for both cannabis and CBD, and this is a very good thing because there are so many parts of the plant that can be used in extraordinarily beneficial ways. So that’s exactly what we did.
This story was originally published in issue 44 of the print edition of Cannabis Now.