When I finally reach Laganja Estranja on the phone, after a long back and forth with her publicist, trying to get schedules to coincide, she's driving through rural Wyoming, in the middle of a cross-country trip to get to her next gig.
"I went from Vegas, two days ago," she said. "Yesterday, I was in Utah, tonight I'm in Denver, tomorrow I go to Albuquerque, and then Houston, all before I fly back to LA and film Bong Appetit, then fly back to Texas and drive to Miami for my three week residency at Young Arts."
Needless to say, the professional drag queen, 'RuPaul's Drag Race' alumna, and cannabis activist is a little busy.
Since her time on season six of 'Drag Race' four years ago, where she came in eighth place, she's traveled the world, opened a dance school, released new music, and built a relationship with prominent cannabis brands and activists in California. And she's not slowing down anytime soon.
"I force myself to just work, work, work," she told me, "because I really believe that God, the universe, has gifted me with these talents of dance and these talents of education about cannabis. That's my job, that's my goal, that's why I'm here on earth."
"I really noticed an immediate difference"
Laganja first started using cannabis while studying dance at the California Institute of the Arts. After falling and seriously injuring her pelvis during a performance, she started seeing a chiropractor who recommended medicinal cannabis.
"I really noticed an immediate difference right away," she said, "And I was so shocked, because my whole life, growing up in Texas, I was told that cannabis was such a negative thing. I never realized that it was a good drug, and a drug that could help with many many different kinds of ailments."
Now, she uses it for pretty much everything from treating chronic pain, anxiety and depression, to regulating her sleep and appetite. In fact, she's made her living out of bringing the cannabis destigmatization message into her art.
"I knew as a drag queen, I wanted to have a platform that would be bigger than myself. I knew right off the bat that cannabis would do that, but also that it would provide an outlet for me that I could really do some good in."
"The Gay Olympics"
Although she's famous for her appearance on 'Drag Race,' Laganja's memories of the show are all bittersweet. She said she was drawn to the show because it's the best shot for drag queens to turn pro.
"I was tired of making 50 dollars a night," she told Civilized. "I wanted to be a professional drag queen, and in this day and age, if that's the profession you wish to be in, RuPaul's Drag Race is the biggest platform there is."
And one of the most difficult to perform on since she wasn't able to bring her cannabis with her during filming. That means she was in a lot of emotional and physical pain throughout the taping. A lot of people don't realize how physical Drag Race is, with the taping and the dressing and the dancing and everything that comes with it.
"I wish I could say it was fun," she said, "but it was a lot of work. We were in drag for seven hours a day and tucked and wearing six pairs of tights, and it was very uncomfortable. and it was intense, I mean, it's literally like the Gay Olympics."
But while the process itself isn't something she'd like to repeat (she said she wouldn't do All Stars), she's thankful for the platform it gave her, one she's now using to do…well, pretty much everything.
The future of Laganja Estranja
Laganja has a million things on the go right now, and she calls herself a one-man band. There's Laganja's Dance School (a traveling dance school she runs), her drag performances, her activism and work with cannabis brands.
"I'm always constantly working," she said. "I feel like I'm by far one of the most hardworking drag queens out there, and that's often underplayed because I'm known for being this crazy, over-the-top queen."
The thing she's working hardest on right now is her music. She has a new album, 'Exhibit A,' dropping later this year, and the video for the first single on the album, 'Look at Me,' came out early this month.
While the song itself seems kind of fun and flirty in the typical drag queen style, in true Laganja fashion, the video has a much deeper story, tackling injustice in the prison system for people of color, specifically regarding cannabis.
"It's hopefully going to get people to look at our system and look at our government and look at the white privilege that I have. Here I am, out smoking weed every day, while my brothers and sisters sit in jail for the exact same thing."
When asked about the future of cannabis in the United States, Laganja's activism kicks in even further. She wants a fair and equitable society where nobody's being taken advantage of, jailed, or profiteering, which she thinks makes her unique.
"I think a lot of people definitely see a different future, where we're just walking in, and smoking pot in a coffee shop," she said, "and while I think that sounds lovely, I think it's more important to see it in a pharmacy, to see it in a textbook, to see it being taught to our doctors, our young doctors, so that it can really grow."