Melissa Etheridge: The Rock Legend Takes On Everything

As always, I wanted to go to the concert.

I mean, I couldn’t pass up seeing—for a fourth time—the electrifying rock star, Melissa Etheridge, perform her growing list of chart-topping anthems live, this time outdoors just across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco. This was the summer of 2002, almost a decade after Etheridge’s monster-selling album, Yes I Am, flooded our collective musical consciousness with instant classics including “I’m The Only One,” “If I Wanted To” and, most especially, the heart-wrenching and expertly vocalized song of eternal longing, “Come To My Window.” I was serious: I had to go see Melissa Etheridge in concert again.

At the time I was the editor in chief of 7×7, SF’s premier magazine for all things celebrity, fashion, food, happenings—you know, the things that matter. As I was given free passes to her show at the last minute, just a few hours before the Janis Joplin-like songstress was set to kick off her set, I had determined that I’d probably had to go alone. But, no: In a fortuitous turn for me, Warren, my dear friend and co-worker (he was on the production side of the business), just moments earlier was unceremoniously dumped by his latest girlfriend and had asked me if I wanted to go bar hopping that night to blow off some steam. Better yet, I countered, let’s go to the outdoor Melissa Etheridge concert in the East Bay. He looked at me incredulously and said: “Are you kidding me right now or are you just being cruel? You want me to go to a concert filled with women I can’t look at and who have zero interest in me whatsoever?” I countered, weakly, “I’ll be there, too.” He said, “Fuck it; why not? Kind of a perfect end to an epically bad day.” So, we went.

Then, things got weird.


As I was a veteran Etheridge concert goer, I knew what kind of crowd to expect, but what I wasn’t anticipating was the sheer sea of humanity that thought, just as I did, that there were worse ways of spending a balmy Saturday night than drinking wine on a blanket under the stars listening to this particular Grammy winner do her thing.

By the time I finally parked my car—a good quarter-mile away from the venue—and hauled my backpack (filled to the brim with drinks, sandwiches, blanket, binoculars), laid out the Union Jack comforter (don’t ask) and Warren and I were finally—finally!—sitting down just moments before the show was set to begin, I see my friend openly staring at a gorgeous blonde woman who was, frankly, seemingly enjoying the attention quite a bit. To be clear: Warren and I were two of perhaps a total of eight men I spotted in a massive field packed to the gills with concertgoers, 99.9 percent of which were female.

So, immediately, I sensed trouble. Big trouble.

I tried to distract Warren with random, asinine questions to no avail. Then, bluntly, I just blurted out: “Hey! Do you want to get punched on this field tonight? Stop flirting with her, dude!”

Right on cue, a less-than-amused woman, clearly the younger Etheridge fan’s companion and object of my buddy’s attention, turned around as her girlfriend literally pointed at Warren. As the, it must be said, intimidating AF woman was getting up to confront my slightly panicked friend, Warren suddenly, and very much without warning, planted one on me, as in a full-on, minute-long, tongues-activated, make-out sesh ensued. I almost passed out from the shock.

At this juncture, two notable things need to be made clear: 1. Warren was a handsome guy to be sure, but never had I ever conjured any thoughts of this happening—not once; 2. Warren, as I’d tell our mutual, unbelieving friends later about this incident, chose the lesser of two bad choices instead of certain unpleasantness at the hands of the aggrieved girlfriend. Wise man. As we unlocked lips after an eternity—Warren’s a great kisser, no surprise there—the pissed off girlfriend glared at Warren, then at me, and gruffly put her arm around her flirty blonde companion. Disaster averted.

I recounted this story to Etheridge at the top of our interview—as well as reminding her about the two occasions we’ve actually met, one when she literally saved me from an unprovoked (and baffling) Ellen DeGeneres tongue-lashing—the rock icon, cannabis and CBD entrepreneur and heroic cancer survivor just started laughing. I said, “Melissa, I don’t even remember the first 20 minutes of your show that night. Adrenalin and the impossibility of what just happened was all too much for me to take on.” “Well, that’s what I do, Richard…I bring people together!” We both laughed hard at that, and thus began our conversation in earnest. I thought I liked this woman. Now, I was sure of it.

Before we get to the really fun convo I had with this most cool of beings on this planet, let’s get a bit of context (and for you youngsters, I’ll save you the Google search).

Melissa Etheridge photographed by Elizabeth Miranda

Melissa Etheridge shocked the American rock scene in 1988 when she released her self-titled debut album which led to a memorable appearance on the Grammy Awards. In the ensuing years, Etheridge built her fan base by releasing a steady stream of successful songs, none bigger at the time than her supplicant melodic cry, “Bring Me Some Water,” for which she won a Grammy in 1992.

But it was the release of her fourth album, the phenomenal, commercial monster hit, Yes I Am, in 1993 when everything changed for Etheridge. Launched two full years before another female rocker would also dominate the musical landscape—Alanis Morissette’s jaw-dropping Jagged Little PillYes I Am had that female pop/rock lane all to itself and Etheridge took full advantage of the opportunity. The iconic album featured massive hits, including two zeitgeist dominating anthems, “I’m the Only One” and “Come To My Window,” a song that brought Etheridge her second Grammy for Best Female Rock Performance.

In 1995, Etheridge followed Yes I Am with Your Little Secret, which became her highest charting album and was distinguished by yet another smash, “I Want To Come Over.” Her phenomenal run garnered Etheridge Songwriter of the Year honors at the ASCAP Pop Awards in 1996. 

Known for her confessional lyrics and raspy, smoky vocals, Etheridge has remained one of this country’s most accomplished—and best-selling—female singer-songwriters for more than three decades. In 2007, Etheridge hit a career milestone winning an Academy Award for “Best Song” for “I Need To Wake Up,” written for the powerful Al Gore documentary on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth.

Back in 1993, at one of Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration balls, Etheridge came out as a lesbian literally years—and even decades—before most had the courage to do so. (Canadian country crooner, k.d. lang, also came out about the same time as Etheridge). And just as everything seemed perfect—almost too perfect, one could argue—Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2004. Unforgettably, Etheridge appeared on the 2005 Grammy telecast to sing the Joplin masterpiece “Piece Of My Heart” (with British singer Joss Stone) completely bald due to the hair loss she suffered from the chemotherapy sessions as she battled the insidious disease. But not surprising anyone, Melissa Etheridge did what she always does: she won. She beat cancer and became a symbol of strength and hope to millions around the planet and got on with the business of living.

In the years that ensued, Etheridge has released several albums, but nothing has struck a zeitgeisty nerve as much as the June 2020 emergence of Etheridge TV, a live streaming subscription service and single-ticket concert platform for home shows the singer launched as a response to the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown orders. In 2020 alone, Etheridge performed more than 200 live shows from home. I even went as far as calling her the “Zoom Queen” during our chat and, yes, she rightfully laughed at that, too. Cut to last fall, when Etheridge released her latest album, One Way Out, a nine-track collection of songs Etheridge wrote in the late 1980s and early ’90s that never made it to any previous album. It’s a stunner.

On the business front, Etheridge has (predictably) been rather fearless in going after what, to her, “made sense.” And cannabis—and later, CBD—made sense to the Kansas native. An early days cannapreneur with the launch of her Etheridge Botanicals, her cannabis brand, she’s most recently expanded her burgeoning offerings by launching a sister brand, Etheridge Organics, a CBD company.

It’s important to recognize that whether the topic is LGBTQiA+ rights or medicinal marijuana advocacy or adult-use cannabis legalization or singing to save our planet or even her plight as a bad ass cancer survivor, everything Melissa Etheridge does she does it better than most, more humbly than many and comes out victorious in the end. Think about it: If homophobia, draconian laws against cannabis and cancer can’t stop this gift to the world wrapped in a rock star package, what can? Etheridge’s ballsiness and defiant spirit in the face of adversity is all but telegraphing a message to all of us: Why should anything stop you from doing exactly what you want to do? Indeed.

So, yeah, I do want Melissa Etheridge to come to my window, tell me unforgettable tales of triumph over evil and sing me into the sweet, good night. I love this remarkable woman so much—hey, she’s even the reason my dear friend Warren had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of kissing me under the stars on a beautiful summer night. Such is the power of one Melissa Etheridge, a genuine American treasure.

Hi, Melissa. What do you think people think of when they hear “Melissa Etheridge?” You’re undeniably one of these superstars who has definitely lived a big life. So right now, if someone in a mall somewhere in this country is asked what they think of when they hear “Melissa Etheridge,” do you have any concept of what they might say? The lesbian? The rock star? The cancer survivor? The cannabis pioneer? The climate change activist?

Hi, Richard. Wow, well I guess it kind of depends on where they come from. To some of them, I’m just the lesbian rock star that has been through so much—that definitely exists out there in the world. But then you have so many people who’ve been touched by cancer, so then I’m that woman who survived 17 years of cancer and beat it. And then there’s the gay community, my goodness, you know, that’s, well, everything to me, too.

And then there’s the cannabis and the planet work.  

Yeah, and all of my activism. And I think there’s just a general sense of “Wow! She’s been through so much!”  I’m just living, and I never want to complain because this is life, and we all go through issues in our lives. Everybody’s got their things to get past, mine just happen to be very public. Then, of course, there’s the people who just know my music. 

That’s the thing, I was thinking of you as a 16-year-old in Kansas, and how you couldn’t possibly imagine this life for yourself. If you could go back to that teenage girl, would you say “It’s going be OK? 

You know, I’d say to my 16-year-old self: Just do it; just walk through it one day at a time. It’s not going to be like anything you could’ve ever imagined or dreamed of, and it’s going to be deeper and more satisfying and it’s going to be so fulfilling, this life. But hang on because there are just a lot of ups and downs. 

And there will be a lot more girlfriends than this one that you’re upset about! 

[Laughs] Oh my god! Yes! And I’d tell myself to do some more sit-ups. Sit-ups are important!

Is there any way of quantifying how important to your life and career the album Yes I Am was? It just catapulted you into the stratosphere.

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah… [Pause] It changed everything. For one, if I had come out and my album wasn’t a success, it would be a whole different story. 

Like when Ellen came out and her show wasn’t No.1.


Did you come out first, then k.d. lang, then Ellen?

Actually, k.d. lang came out about a month before I came out, so, you know, we were all hanging out together and talking all the time, but she had the first opportunity to do that.

When Yes I Am was released, I became completely obsessed. “Come To My Window” has to be your biggest reaction song you sing in concerts, right?

Yeah, I have about five of them. “I’m The Only One,” “Bring Me Some Water,” but “Come To My Window” is the one where the audiences gasp and they stand up and it just brings everything back.

I just may know what it is about that song: longing. We all can definitely relate to—requited and unrequited—longing. 

Yes, that’s true. Everyone just reaches out for that song. I’m so grateful for that song. I had no idea it would become what it has become. 

That’s my next question, were you so in the moment that you couldn’t see out, or did you know this was going to be a special song?

No, I almost didn’t put it on the album. I thought “Come To My Window” was very simple and people wouldn’t quite know what I was talking about. And I got a little shy about it and a couple of different people, whose opinions I trust, were like “No, no, no… This is a good song; you should put it on the album.” And so, I did, and I’m glad I did—and I remain very grateful. 

I remember how the 2005 Grammys kind of shook me. What you did that night wasn’t brave, exactly, it’s just I had never seen anything like it before—your performance that night was fearless, it was ballsy, it was presentational, but it was also the first time anyone really activated on the “Fuck Cancer” defiance you so embodied on that stage.  I mean, Melissa, you’ve done a lot of jaw-dropping stuff, but, to me, that moment was arguably your best moment ever because it had it all: talent, pathos, sadness, anger, joy, resilience, mirth, brilliance. Simply amazing. Did you feel that way when you were performing it? 

Oh, wow, Richard. Thank you for that. I have to tell you, the whole cancer experience right around that whole year, was really unusual. It was a total life changing year for me, absolutely. 

So, the moment the doctor said the word “cancer,” did you go into a haze?  

Well, I have to tell you, since this is PuraPhy and a site dedicated to cannabis plant medicine, about a year before I was diagnosed, I took an accidental heroic dose of cannabis, of edibles. And I asked my girlfriend at the time, “Have you ever done pot cookies?” She said, “Oh yeah, let’s do this—it’ll be fun!” Just my girlfriend and I on the weekend—it was great. She was a talented baker and she made really tasty cookies, right? So, you get a little bit stoned, and you just keep eating the cookies. I obviously ate way too many—way, way, way too many—you know, a heroic dose. So, what happens? She passes out, and I go on a journey.

Here’s the thing, up until that time, I hadn’t been a steady cannabis user at all. I was just a social smoker every now and again, but that night changed me in such a deep, medical way. I got such a thorough understanding of myself, of my life, of reality. When I came back, I realized how way out there I had been and it changed me, it changed who I was. I call it a transformative moment, and it was that mind-blowing experience that people say they sometimes get. 

Almost like a psilocybin trip.

Absolutely as deep or even deeper than a psilocybin trip. But it’s the same thing as psilocybin can do for us and the other entheogens can do for us. After I came back from that experience I felt that I didn’t fear death any longer and I understood death and I understood life much more. I started on this journey of reading quantum physics books and understanding that topic and moving one to quantum biology and I started, you know, into mindfulness discovering this terrific stuff. All of this is happening in 2000 and shortly thereafter.

So, when I got that diagnosis [in 2004] I was like “Oh, wow!” I didn’t feel like it was a death sentence at all. I didn’t feel like that at all. I felt like all this was, this was me getting rid of the stuff coming out of my body. When the diagnosis came, the radiologist that was taking my biopsy—the tumor was so thick she could barely get the needle out—she had to literally put her foot up and pull the needle out of my tumor. 

What stage cancer was it?

It was Stage 3, and I did have to do the chemo and all this stuff and while I was on chemo I’d smoke so much cannabis. I mean, pot kept my appetite up, it kept the pain down, it enabled me to relax and not be depressed and it took me into my mind and to understand my body. I came out of that whole experience thinking “Damn people, this should be a choice. Plant medicine needs to be a choice.” They tried to hand me a pill for nausea and whatever, and I’m saying “Stop! No, it’s my body! I’m not taking that. You’re already killing my body with chemotherapy.”

The thing that’s lost to so many people who oppose any kind of cannabis is that it’s all natural, it’s in nature. 

It is so natural, yes! So, I became a plant advocate when I went through my cancer. 

Take me back to that Grammy performance. Were you present, or defiant or just grateful to be on that stage at all? 

You know, Richard, I hadn’t been out in public for three months—no one had seen me, and most people might not even have known that’s what I was going through. I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t want anyone to laugh at me, that much I remember.

I had asked a couple of my friends if I should wear a wig and everyone said “No” and I said “No, I don’t think so either, and I’m just going to be bald.” I told Joss Stone, who was singing with me backstage before going on, “Grammy audiences are invariably awful: They never stand up, and they don’t clap, they’re just all there in their business suits and they’re just not going to do anything and so don’t worry if nobody reacts to our performance.”

Our guitar player overheard me speaking to Joss and he came up and says, “Melissa, you don’t even know what you’re about to do, do you?” And I said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about” and when I walked out on that stage, and I felt this warm reception…you can even see me smile at the beginning of the performance because I’m feeling the crowd was right there with me…they were on my side. They wanted me to win. And it was wonderful.

The only thing I can equate this to was when Gloria Estefan had that terrible bus accident in 1990, and she broke her back, and no one knew if she would even be able to walk again.

Yes! Oh, my goodness,  when she walked down those stairs at the American Music Awards [in 1991]—we were all holding our breaths! Yeah, it was a seminal moment that you take, and you say, “I’m going to walk through this and then your life changes.” That’s something that plant medicine absolutely helped me with as well: To look at my fears and say “No, this is something I’m walking through because I know when I walk through it, the other side’s going to be filled with much more clarity. I’m going to be stronger. So, yeah, c’mon! Bring it on!” 

Shifting gears to CBD, did you hear Israel recently announced that they’ll be the first country in the world to completely legalize CBD? 

Israel knows what’s going on.

It’s absurd that the whole War on Drugs aftermath still lingers on every front in this country.

And now it’s not only hurting business, but it’s also a crime what they’re doing to the proprietors in this industry. They’re about to kill the legal industry—as it is, it’s hanging on by a thread. 

One more variant wave of this pandemic and this could be it for the industry.

Yep, it’s horrible. 

Do you have any… well, “regrets” isn’t the right word, but feel any sort of way about living such a public life? Everything is so public nowadays. The paparazzi is everywhere. And while you’re not Britney, I mean, you could be a Page Six topic tomorrow If something happens that would be private for everybody else. Is privacy a factor in your life? 

Well, I decided a long time ago when I saw in the early ’90s in The National Enquirer a false article about me, I was “Oh, this is how it’s going to be?” and the stories they publish are always embellished, but sometimes they contain a grain of truth and then they just run with that. But, when I saw that was happening I said,  “You know, I have to make a choice here” because I’m not going to win by hiding things.

There’s no place to hide today.

No, there isn’t and so why not live your life authentically? And I did exactly that starting in the ’90s. I was just going to be truthful and at least I could stand up and say “Well, this is the actual truth. This is who I am; this is what it is.” And as I did that, that’s when I came out. And that was great and it was wonderful, but then I broke up and that wasn’t so wonderful. [Laughs]

We were all a little heartbroken, I have to admit.

It’s like “Oh, god,” you feel like you’re letting everybody down. But, you know what? You just have to live your life. You just have to walk through it and say I’m glad—thank god that first relationship didn’t work—it was a nightmare. And I learn, and I grow.

Even with the death of my son [Beckett Cypher, 21] in 2020, you know, yeah, that it would’ve been much easier if the whole world didn’t know about it and yet, it’s part of life and you know what? There are hundreds of thousands of families who’ve lost loved ones to opioid addiction, and if I can help in any way, if it’s what I’m going through and I went through, can help anyone in any way, then, good…let it be. And as long as I know I’m being honest and I’m up front, people will trust my story, people will believe me because they know I’m always going to be authentic, even in the most difficult of times.

Authenticity has never an issue with you, that’s for sure. Let’s have a bit of fun now. What’s left to do, Melissa? Give me a dream duet that you’d love to do tomorrow if given the chance. 

Oh my! There are so many. Well, I mean one of the first ones that always come to mind is Adele, I’d just love to sing with her. She’s completely incredible. She’s just a wonderful person. I’ve met her and socialized with her, but we’ve never done anything musically together. And of course, I’ve always said that I’d love to do work with Steven Tyler because that’s just something that absolutely should happen. [Laughs]

And you can do definitely exchange outfits.

[Laughs] Give me some of those scarves!

I was so hoping it’d happen for a long time, but the whole Janice Joplin film odyssey…you would’ve been amazing, right? So, now, they have to rethink it if they ever do attempt it. Do you think Miley Cyrus would work in that role?

[Pause] I don’t know if that movie will ever get made. 

That story has to be made.

I know, right? At first, 30 years ago now, the movie didn’t proceed because Janis Joplin’s family wanted to do it one way, wanted to do it with Hollywood masters, of course. That’s just where the money is, they know that, and then the other half of the people involved were saying just find someone who can sing and act and let’s just do it.

How close did you actually get to starring in the movie?

Oh, my god, Richard! We had a script; we had a director. I don’t know, it’s sad, but it happens all the time in this town. I don’t know how anything ever gets made in Hollywood, frankly.

A few years ago, I was a producer in Los Angeles for a while, and it was an insane business environment. Take me to New York City any day of the week where people if they tell you to F off, at least they’re being honest. My experience in LA was everyone tells you you’re the greatest thing ever, but they rarely, if ever, call you back. Two different approaches to doing business for sure.

That’s so true. You know, I really thought this movie was going to happen, and then it just didn’t. It just— Bam!—went away. And I don’t know why.

One day… I’ve been curious, since you’re such a prolific songwriter, what’s the best song lyric you’ve ever written? 

You know what? It’s funny, I have to tell you because sometimes I say this in concert when I’m doing this song because people ask me what my favorite lyrics are, and I used to say “Oh, you know, I have a bazillion of them.” But, if I really think about it, every time I sing this song, every time I get to this verse, I think of this as my favorite thing I’ve ever written. I mean, I’ve written some really good stuff I like, but it’s “All The Way To Heaven” on the Your Little Secret album.

I want to find me a carnival
Outside of town
A tilt-a-whirl set up
With a merry-go-round
Cotton candy fingers
And a snow cone mouth
I want to roll you in sawdust
Till they run us both out
All the way to heaven
All the way

Do you remember where you were when you wrote those lyrics? 

Yes. I was on a tour bus. I write so many songs in the back of the bus, you know traveling along and I wrote it and I actually still have it in the back of… I used to have these itineraries and the back page was blank and I for some reason didn’t have my notebook that day, so I wrote all of the words down on that itinerary. And you know, so much of my writing is just grabbing the inspiration from wherever it comes from. On that day, when those words came out, I went, “Ooo, I like that!” [Laughs

A lot of the best stories I’ve written, they just come, and I’m very conversational in my writing, and sometimes I just start writing, and I’m not precisely sure where it’s all coming from; I don’t even know what happened, but I get it done. 

That’s the magic part you can’t explain to people; and that’s the fun part and the part we have to trust and if you’re a good writer you’re feasting on, and you know how to tap into that channel.

With your latest album, I’m feeling like this is part of the Taylor Swift creative wave, because Taylor’s been reissuing her songs, and it’s a bit similar to what you just did.

Yeah, it’s so much fun. A few years ago, I was approached to do re-records because the record company owns the masters in that, and I don’t I don’t get any money from those.  

It’s just…incredible to me.

Yeah, the record industry is really something.

The headline is: George Michael Was Right! He was right to sue his record company.

Yes, and Prince was right, too. It’s all like “Wait…you…I don’t…huh? I created this record, and you get to keep all of it?” How’s that fair?

You have to go out on the road just to make a living. 

Exactly. You have to be able to tour to make a living. But I thought, “God, I don’t want to redo “Come To My Window.” I’m never going to be able to sing it like I did back then— that was a moment. 

That was definitely a moment. 

So, about seven years ago, I put a box set together and that was when box sets—and CDs—were still a thing. So, we started pulling out all this old stuff that people never heard, and I had changed management companies and they said “Look again, your record company is going to make all the money. You’re not going to make any money off this.” OK, I thought, what if I go and just record myself and pay for it myself? That’s exactly what I did, I recorded these songs seven years ago. And then put it on the shelf and went on and did some other stuff and circumstances changed and so this last year when COVID hit, BMG was “do you have anything?”

Meanwhile, you’re the “Queen Of Zoom” concerts. That started organically, yes?

If I was going to do this for the next year, we’re going to do this and we’re going to do it right. And it was fun. It was fun learning all that stuff. But that’s when BMG said, “Hey, you have anything?” And I said, “You know, I’ve got these tracks from about seven years ago, and a couple of these older songs…” and they loved it and I was so excited because these are songs that some of them should have made the albums.

How does a song, “As Cool As You Try,” not make it on any album?

I know! It’s because I was a knucklehead back then. [Laughs]

It’s so evocative. I mean that song takes me back to the classic Melissa Etheridge I love so much. 

Thank you, Richard. That’s so much fun and I’ve had such fun with this new album, and I love playing the songs. I’ve gotten such a great response from the audience that I just want to do it again, but I think I should do something else first before I do it again. Like Taylor Swift, I’d just make album after album.

First of all, mad respect for Taylor Swift. I’m from the Carole King will never be beat school of songwriting, but I have to tip my hat to Taylor Swift, she can turn a phrase like nobody’s business.

Amazing. Good for her! She’s incredibly talented and a great businesswoman.

I’m going to give you a slot to be the headliner at the Super Bowl halftime show next year, and you can bring three performers with you to round out the show. Tell me, who’s on that stage with you?

Well, I’m going to bring… do you know the artist H.E.R.? 

She’s absolutely incredible. What a talent.

Exactly! I’m going to bring H.E.R. and we’ll jam on guitars and sing. 

Who else makes the cut? Maybe all women? 

Sure. Why not? 

It’s been a long time for all women at the Super Bowl, even with Jennifer Lopez and Shakira tearing up the stage a couple of years ago. 

Next I’ll invite The Go-Go’s and we’d sing “We Got The Beat.”

Genius. H.E.R., The Go-Go’s and… Who’s rounding out the show?

I don’t know if Miley Cyrus would do it, but I’d want her to come on for a little something.

How about any of the young divas, say, Ariana Grande or Olivia Rodrigo?

Yes, for sure, but I was also trying to think of more of a Latin artist. I’d like to add a Latin artist to the show. 

How about Camila Cabello? She’s red-hot and Cuban, like me [Laughs]? 

Yes! She’s absolutely lovely.

Shop talk time. As a business owner, you leaning more to cannabis or CBD as a corporate focus?

My focus is on wellness and situational wellness, and I think cannabis and CBD are the doors that open it. I think psilocybin is another huge area that can change the world. I think that leads to more understanding of ayahuasca and ibogaine and these things that really can make a difference especially in opioid addiction, PTSD, bipolarism, depression—the things that hold so many of us underwater and that plant medicine can unquestionably help clear up.

Melissa Etheridge photographed by Elizabeth Miranda

I never thought in a million years that we’d see this drive for cannabis legalization becoming so mainstream in the US. 

I think this generation is doing it. The older generation was brainwashed with Reefer Madness and are dying out. And the younger generation knows what’s up: We’ve all smoked, we’ve all done it, we all know the lies they tell. I’m not going go kill somebody because I got high. C’mon!

I think you, Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson and others have made it OK to spark up. 

Yeah, I mean, it’s like, we can absolutely normalize cannabis. Just as it’s OK to take an Ambien at night to help you sleep.

Right, how’s that any better? And how’s alcohol any better?

Yeah, you’re going to feel like hell, your two glasses of wine are going to be detrimental to you. 

How’s that bottle of rosé better for you than a gummy?

It’s not. And we’re smart people, we can see that, and you can’t lie to us any longer. 

Parting thoughts?

Oh, it was just such a pleasure to talk to you, Richard. I do hope you come see me again.

Stay close to your window. [Laughs

I will! [Laughs]