As a Grammy-winner and celebrated cannabis advocate, it’s hard to imagine how Melissa Etheridge could feel more like a rock star - and yet here we are.
In the wake of her recent drug bust at the U.S.-Canada border, Etheridge says she feels like a “rock star now.”
Speaking to Variety, she said getting arrested for cannabis possession puts her “in good company” with stars like Paul McCartney, Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson.
Etheridge’s tour bus was searched by Customs and Border Protection agents on Aug. 17 while crossing into North Dakota. K-9 dogs sniffed out cannabis oil in the vehicle and Etheridge was booked for possession of a controlled substance.
“I’ve crossed many, many borders in my life, hundreds of times,” Etheridge said. “I’ve never had a search like that.”
A mugshot obtained by TMZ shows the ‘Come To My Window’ singer – who reportedly pleaded not guilty – with a massive grin.
“The mug shot was taken with a cell phone! I was like, ‘Oh my God, I hope this never gets out’,” said Etheridge, adding that at the same time, she wanted “to send love with the photo. That’s why I’m smiling.”
That said, Etheridge admits she wasn’t thrilled about the arrest itself, partially blaming herself for how things went down.
“I’m mad at myself,” Etheridge said. “I was careless. It’s an international border, I should’ve known better. But I hope this can move the issue forward, shed some light on how many people use cannabis as a medicine.”
North Dakota became the 30th state to legalize medical marijuana last November, but the state hasn’t launched its program yet. Etheridge lives in California, where her cannabis card allows her to make legal purchases across the state.
She said it’s impossible to say whether the search was politically motivated, what with Donald Trump in the White House and the infamously anti-cannabis Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.
“Who’s to say, but I can draw my own conclusions,” she said.
“When the new administration came in, the whole cannabis industry went, ‘Woah!’” said Etheridge, adding that the cannabis climate changing so dramatically at the federal level has caused her to slow things down with respect to her own cannabis company, Etheridge Farms.
“Legalization is so brand new that nothing is happening quickly. Our products are close, but they aren’t here yet.”
Etheridge has been a passionate advocate for cannabis legalization ever since she used the drug during chemotherapy after her 2004 breast cancer diagnosis.
“I'm a Southern California granola kind of gal, and I have a very healthy belief in natural things. And so when the doctor looked at me and said, ‘Okay, you're gonna have this pain...here's five pills and they all have their side effects,’ I said, ‘No thank you. I will smoke this one plant’,” Etheridge told Civilized in an exclusive interview in September 2015.
“It provided relief from pain, from depression. It gave me an appetite. It kept me awake and aware for my children while I was going through this. I just cannot imagine how anyone goes through chemo without it.”