Despite never being an avid cannabis consumer, Charlamagne Tha God, controversial co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Breakfast Club, television personality, actor and best-selling author, has gotten into the cannabis industry.
“I’ve never really been much of a smoker. I don’t have a lot of good memories associated with smoking. It always makes my body go through the roof,” he admits during an exclusive interview.
Charlamagne -born Lenard Larry McKelvel- has recently been very open about his struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. In that way, he tries to fight the stigma around mental health in America, especially among black communities. Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks On Me, his second book after Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It, is related to this issue and reveals his personal traumas, regrets and fears.
In fact, McKelvel confesses he only survived 2020 because of all the self-care work he has done.
“I’ve been going to therapy and practicing meditation. I think a lot of people had to sit still last year and see themselves for the first time, and they didn’t like what they saw. That happened to me a few years ago, so I started doing the work. You can’t keep running. You gotta deal with the trauma,” he urges. And it is honest. C has had to do his fair share of introspection, apologies, and self-improvement.
Tha God And Evolution
As a teen, Charlamagne was into weed because of its relationship with rap and hip-hop.
“Every song was about smoking weed in some way, shape or form. The first time I smoked I was in high school, in Moncks Corner,” he reminisces.
“Getting high was cool because I was young and I didn’t have as much trauma and stuff as you do when you get older. I just used to do it in a recreational and social way.”
However, things changed after he got arrested for the first time and was put on probation. For him, smoking was just too scary: “Even before I was diagnosed with panic attacks, it would give them to me. I didn’t know what it was back then, but the weed was making me super paranoid.”
So he left it alone for a long, long time.
The Green Wave
In recent years, cannabis became a mainstream product, a topic of discussion, and a big driver of the economy, where it was legalized. And with this mainstreaming of the plant came the realization of the countless benefits medical marijuana has.
Trying to ride that wave, Charlamagne found out, yet again, that smoking was not good for him. It was still triggering anxiety attacks.
Eventually, he did some research and came across those good ol’ edibles.
“The edibles are beautiful. I might do 10 milligrams and drink a glass of wine and be right where I need to be,” McKelvel confides.
And so, reconciliation came through. He could finally see marijuana from a whole different perspective.
“At this age, I never thought it was something that I would pick up with it. But definitely, when I'm home on the weekends, and I have nothing to do, it’s great for me,” he says.
Wake And Bake
Charlamagne and his The Breakfast Club co-hosts Angela Yee and DJ Envy have interviewed a long list of big names, including Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, current President and Vice President of the United States – in case you didn't know who they were.
Addressing the subject of cannabis, Charlamagne punctually questioned Biden about his promise to decriminalize marijuana instead of just legalizing the plant across the country. This promise is yet to be fulfilled, as the executive branch proves to be less cannabis-friendly than anticipated, with Biden even asking several White House staffers to resign due to past marijuana use.
After that experience, the radio host was left feeling sceptical about cannabis being legalized federally during Biden’s term. He does hope, however, legalization will happen sometime in the next decade.
“We have enough data that shows that marijuana is not addictive, not deadly and that it has a lot of medical benefits. Not legalizing cannabis is hypocritical,” he voices.
“It also opens up another industry and another form of economic empowerment for folks.”
By The People, For The People
The 42-year-old media personality recently got involved in the cannabis industry, becoming an advisor to CitizenGrown, a company whose motto is “Cannabis by the people, for the people.” Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon is also invested in this company and was profiled in this Forbes feature.
With a unique business model, CitizenGrown provides households with automated cannabis grow boxes, allowing people to both literally and figurately harvest the rewards of this growing industry.
“I was all in because this is a way to empower not just black and brown people, but also empower those who have been impacted by the War on Drugs, whether directly or indirectly,” he explains.
As it is, marijuana has become a great place to start systemically reversing the consequences of the War on Drugs.
“If there was such a thing as drug war reparations, this would be very, very close to it,” he declares.
Deepa Sood, CEO of CitizenGrown, adds, "We are in a tide change of sorts in terms of perceptions of cannabis. Having people like Charlamagne and Rae, people with such incredible influence, supporting our social justice approach to cannabis illustrates how public perception is changing for the better and how there is an appetite and ability to do this right, ground up, and change peoples' lives."
Moreover, Charlamagne decided to support the community by launching The Black Effect Podcast Network, a service dedicated to uplifting Black culture and Black voices.
“I always want people to check out the Black Effect Podcast Network on iHeartRadio, we have like 20 podcasts available,” the Radio Hall of Famer concludes.
Franca Quarneti contributed to this report.
Photo by Fila USA via WikiMedia Commons.
This article was originally published on Forbes and appears here with permission.
Versión en Español: Entrevista a Charlamagne Tha God: ‘No Legalizar la Marihuana Es Hipócrita’
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