Charlo Greene, an Alaska news reporter who abruptly resigned on live television after revealing her identity as the owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club—the subject of her news report—is facing criminal drug charges that could result in a decades-long prison sentence.
Charlo Greene, 28, whose given name is Charlene Egbe, quit on live television by saying: “And as for this job, well, not that I have a choice but, [expletive] it, I quit.”
Greene became a proponent for the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state. A 2014 law that legalized the manufacture, sale, and possession of cannabis went into effect a year later. At that time, the regulations for retail operations had yet to be finalized, which meant Greene’s business was in violation of the law.
According to the Guardian, the Alaska Cannabis Club sold “memberships” to people and supplied marijuana to those who made “donations.” In 2015, detectives made six undercover purchases and seized more than $20,000 worth of marijuana at the club between the months of March and August, reported KTVA Alaska.
“The fact that they were watching us for so long, I kind of felt violated,” Greene’s 26-year-old sister, Jennifer Egbe, who helped out at the club told the Guardian. “I was really just heartbroken. I never assumed it would go this far.”
Greene added, “I saw all my siblings…with these guns that my tax dollars paid for pointed at them for what was now legal.”
Though Greene was not involved in the undercover transactions, she was found criminally responsible because the business is registered under her name. That same year, Greene was charged with four counts of felony controlled substance misconduct and four misdemeanors that could land her in prison for 24 years. She has since been charged with six additional counts and could now face 54 years in confinement.
“It’s almost dizzying when you try to make sense of it,” Greene said about her upcoming trial. “It could literally cost me the rest of my adult life.”
Greene has referred to her case as a “modern-day lynching” in a blog post on her eponymous website. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, blacks are given longer sentences for drug-related cases than their white counterparts.
Greene became an advocate for cannabis legalization once she realized the medicinal benefits the marijuana plant had on sick patients, which she said was more important than her career as a journalist.
Alaska joined Colorado and Washington as the only states to have legalized marijuana.
Greene has pleaded not guilty, and is scheduled to go on trial in the coming months.