Discussing politics today can feel like firing a grenade; someone pulls the pin, throws it and everyone steps back to watch what kind of explosion ensues. Not all political views and conversations are treated with the respect and open-mindedness they deserve. Folks are often quick to attack those who disagree with their viewpoint or crucify any opinion that challenges their own. In the midst of our current political madness, two women have managed to break the mold of political conversation by creating a space to discuss real issues with the right amount of receptivity… and a little bit of cannabis.
Highly Political is a podcast founded by Tianna Jones and Samantha Kellie, two women who “smoke cannabis, talk politics, laugh, and sometimes cry, with special guests from the world of comedy, cannabis and politics.” While they may not have held jobs on Capitol Hill, Jones and Kellie do know politics.
Kellie grew up quickly watching the daily news with her grandparents and observing the US political climate from an early age. Jones was born into a slightly more conservative family with a father who served in the military. Despite their differing backgrounds, the two came together while working at a restaurant, and soon after, their friendship and political prowess was further ignited by the 2016 elections.
“When we first met, Sam was a little bit more political than I was. She was really great about sending out emails to her friends and letting them know each ballot, what was on it and what she would vote for,” Jones says. “During the 2016 elections, she and I were really able to connect, and she really showed me all of the reasons why I wanted to vote for Hillary Clinton. Then we shared in our extreme sadness at her loss.”
After experiencing the election’s crushing results, Jones and Kellie knew they needed to make a change. The two LA-based women decided to channel their rage in a positive direction and created Highly Political with the goal of making “the harder conversations easier to have” in a more receptive arena.
“We wanted to create a podcast that made politics more approachable. The idea was to create a platform that was a little light and fun with the cannabis side of things, but also had very serious topics that were approachable. We wanted something tangible that encouraged people to not be afraid to participate or express themselves,” Jones shares.
Jones and Kellie believe real change comes from constructive conversation, spreading awareness and inspiring action among their peers.
“We decided to do this podcast after the election because we really wanted people to understand why elections matter,” Kellie says. “What struck me was that it was the lowest voter turnout since the ’70s. Spreading awareness is really important to us.”
Since the start of the podcast, the duo has covered topics from The Mueller Report and healthcare to the upcoming 2020 candidates—all while smoking their favorite cannabis strains.
We had a chance to speak with the podcast partners-in-crime to hear more about their journey and how they came to create their cannabis-infused program.
Why a podcast as opposed to a blog or YouTube channel?
Kellie: Tianna and I just have a lot of fun talking to each other. I’m not really interested in the world of blogging in general. I have friends who blog, but it seemed like talking to one another would maybe engage the conversation quicker than posting a bunch of blog posts.
Jones: More than anything, I think it’s just hitting record on the conversations we were already having. It was like taking that energy and channeling it for something bigger than just the two of us sitting in my apartment smoking a joint and bitching about Trump, because we do a lot of that. We can use it for good and help people be more informed, learn something, inspire them to want to be more politically active in their own communities in their own lives in general. I think the podcast seemed like a really great format to get that out there.
You have both worked together at Bloom Farms for a few years now, but how did you first meet and eventually bond over politics and cannabis?
Jones: Sam and I worked at a restaurant together and bonded over similar interests. I’d say around 2016 elections, our friendship grew closer. That’s when we really started to get to know more about each other.
Kellie: I took a lot of poli-sci classes in college and grew up watching FOX News with my grandparents, so the flame was it from a very young age. I was always paying attention to what was happening. I felt like I was the only person in my age group (in my early 20s) watching cable news. We decided to do this podcast after the election because we really wanted people to understand why these things matter.
Why did you decide to include cannabis in your podcast?
Jones: The cannabis definitely makes the harder conversations easier to have and helps us open up a little bit more and kind of calm down. The stuff we talk about can be kind of heavy or frustrating, so it’s great to utilize cannabis to open up more, relax and have that sort of community and bonding experience together.
Kellie: There’s the vibe of like, let’s pass the joint and just talk about whatever is on our minds. I’m a comedian and feel pretty anti-social at times, but I know that if I go to a comedy club and have a joint in my pocket, I will find friends. So the cannabis and politics aspect just made sense for us.
Do you listen to any other political podcasts for inspiration?
Kellie: I really like Pod Save The People and Pot Save America. Those are really great ones. That’s kind of what got me started.
What sorts of responses do you get from people who listen to your podcast?
Kellie: I’m surprised when people say we’re funny. We’re not looking to crack jokes. When people say they learned things. I’m like, ‘“Hell yeah!”
Jones: People don’t think they are political and don’t understand that politics is about how your life is governed. So if you aren’t political, you better get ready to be controlled. I think one of the great things and some of the best feedback I’ve gotten from people is that they are learning stuff from the podcast. They’re having fun and it’s inspiring them to do more research and have conversations with their friends and family. For me, that’s one of the main goals and what I’ve been happy to get from people’s feedback. You know, you’re sitting just in a home studio, and oftentimes when you are talking into a microphone, it feels like you are talking into a void. So specific comments show me that people are really listening and are engaged. If you’re not engaged, you won’t remember those kinds of details.
Have you received any backlash or any negative feedback?
Kellie: Not yet. We’re at the point right now where it’s just friends and friends of friends listening. I kind of can’t wait until we get backlash. That means our base has grown. So it hasn’t come yet… but when it does, I more than welcome it.
Where do you hope Highly Political is in the next couple years?
Kellie: We’re hoping we have a large audience base where maybe we can start doing live shows. Traveling with the pod is a dream that we’re to make true.
What do you hope listeners get out of the podcast?
Jones: I hope people who feel overwhelmed realize they are not alone. I hope people who thought they had non-interest realize there is a lot of interesting things in politics. I just hope people had a good time. It is deep and sometimes it’s dark stuff that’s going on or just really important things, but at the end of the day, we can have these conversations and move forward. And that people feel like we’re making a difference, making a change for the better.
Kellie: I want people to be reminded that you can’t escape politics in any capacity. With some fun banter and making it a little easier to ingest. If you are not participating in the politics of your country it’s still adding to the political makeup of your country. You can’t escape it so you might as well smoke a j and talk about it and vote.