Returning back to the University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA) after graduating undergrad was surreal, and a little bit traumatizing. Not only is UCLA one of the top UCs, but it’s their prestige and not-so-easy academic curriculum that sets them apart from the rest.

Cannabis journalist Shirley Ju returns to her UCLA roots:

What Is UCLA's Cannaclub?

13 years ago when I first transferred to UCLA (from UC Santa Barbara), having a cannabis club on campus was unheard of. The simple idea of it would/ve been scolded down upon, and to host a cannabis event with all the top cannabis brands would certainly never see the light of day.

Introducing UCLA’s Cannaclub, a collegiate organization founded by Maha Haq that focuses on cannabis education, advocacy, and opportunities for students. They foster discussions on topics within the cannabis space via information sessions, awareness campaigns, networking opportunities, and service.

(C) Cannaclub at UCLA

The UCLA Cannaclub's First CannaclubCon: Cannabis Education And Conversation With Industry Experts

On Thursday November 2nd, Cannaclub hosted their first ever CannaclubCon inside UCLA’s Ackerman Grand Ballroom, from 10am to 5pm. Programming for the day included:

  • Health & Wellness with Papa & Barkley's co-founder/CEO Guy Rocourt and Head of Education Lori Hirsch
  • Cannabis Science & Research with UCLA Cannabis Research Center
  • Flower 101 with Alien Labs founder/Creative Director Ted Lidie and Connected Cannabis Co's Senior Vice President of Cultivation Ian Justus
  • Solventless 101 with 710 Labs founder Brad Melshenker and Social Media Supervisor Ethan Waters
  • Cannabis & Social Media: Viral Creators with Maha Haq, Adam Ill, Erick Khan, and Mackenzie Marie, AKA MacDizzle
(C) Cannaclub at UCLA

CannaclubCon's Media Diversity Panel: Shirley Ju, The Cannabis Cutie, Jay Jackson (Laganja Estranja), And Cae Jones

I had the pleasure of speaking on the "Media Diversity: Diverse Content Creators and Advocates in Cannabis" panel alongside educator Tammy Pettigrew, AKA The Cannabis Cutie, and performer/choreographer Jay Jackson, AKA Laganja Estranja, hosted by Cae Jones, AKA Jungle Cae. The premise for the panel was diverse representation within cannabis and social media, and how we navigate the sometimes difficult waters such as cannabis content not being allowed, and how to monetize your platform. 

The common thread of the panelists was definitely authenticity, and staying true to who you are deep down at the core.

Tammy Pettigrew, AKA The Cannabis Cutie, on the set of the Lasagna Ganja podcast with co-host Xzibit (C) DCP Entertainment

Tammy Pettigrew, AKA The Cannabis Cutie

The Cannabis Cutie stated, “I'm really just being myself. If you know my family and friends, they listened to me talk about cannabis for over a decade and were really tired of it. [laughs] When I started my page, it was nice for them to say ‘Wow, look at you just being yourself and people love that.’ They were also happy I had a new audience, so I'm just myself. When it comes to posting, I try to be very intentional. My branding is going to be pink and a light purple. It's very concise, very consistent. But outside of that, I just try to be who I am.” 

“On days that I'm not perfect, I'm gonna let you see that as well,” she continues. “I'm a mom, I have a teenager. I don't need to say anything else, my life is in shambles. [laughs] Being a mother, being a professional. Showing what it looks like when your account isn’t being shown. That's definitely part of my journey, constantly being deactivated and shadowbanned. I don't think there's much of a difference between Tammy and The Cannabis Cutie.”

Laganja Estranja on location in Hawaii (C) Chris Balidio @bonfire_baelids. Makeup by Tamiko Hobin @theislandghoul; couture by Arm Couture @armds_costume; nail art by Patrick Church @patrickchurchny

Jay Jackson, AKA Laganja Estranja

Jay Jackson, whose Laganja Estranja persona first gained international attention on RuPaul’s Drag Race, completely agreed. 

“Transparency is key. That's why we've both been successful, because we show people who we really are. The ups, the downs, everything in between. Maybe something that people don't see is the work ethic that it takes. Being a content creator a lot of times is written off as ‘oh, that's not a real job.” When in actuality, it very much is and there's a lot that goes behind it. A lot of different skillsets you have to possess to create that final product.”

Throughout her journey, Jackson has always talked about how much work ethic it takes to be a content creator, specifically a queer cannabis one.

“I'm with you, it's all about just continuing to be as authentic as you can in a world where people are curating their lives for us online,” she adds.

The festivities didn’t just end there, as Cannaclub closed out the evening on a high note with an afterparty at GOAT Global.

For more on UCLA's Cannaclub, visit


Written By:

Shirley Ju is a journalist, media host, and seasoned music industry professional. She is the founder of Shirley's Temple, a podcast series with a focus on mental health, where her guests include Trippie Redd, Chanel West Coast, Ricky Williams, Blac Chyna, and more. Shirley's work has been featured in publications such as Variety, Complex, Nylon, Flaunt, and REVOLT; she can also be seen doing exclusive interviews for leading urban news source VLADTV, featuring a platform with 5 million subscribers. Find out more about Shirley at @shirju on Instagram and Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

@shirju (IG)

@shirju (Twitter)


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Maha Haq

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Featured image: UCLA's Cannaclub hosted its first CannaclubCon featuring speakers Jay Jackson, AKA Laganja Estranja (left), and Tammy Pettigrew, AKA The Cannabis Cutie (right). Laganja Estranja (C) Chris Balidio @bonfire_baelids. Makeup by Tamiko Hobin @theislandghoul; couture by Arm Couture @armds_costume; hair by @websterwigs. The Cannabis Cutie (C) The Cannabis Cutie.