After competing on season six of RuPaul's Drag Race, Jay Jackson, aka Laganja Estranja, has performed in 14 countries, founded the international masterclass Laganja's Dance School with The Social Impact Center's Kristen Lovell, dropped multiple music videos, competed on season 15 of So You Think You Can Dance, hosted the podcast, High Tea, and created the unique YouTube series, Transformation Thursdays. She continues to stretch her creative talents every day.
Alongside her relentless work ethic, Laganja is also a dedicated cannabis and LGBTQIA+ advocate. Speaking to us about her experience breaking into the industry while being out and proud, she said,
“I've said it once and I'm gonna keep saying it until it's not true: the cannabis industry is homophobic. I just got off the phone with someone who was calling me to say, 'Hey, do you know of any gay cannabis brands that would sponsor our music video?' and I'm like, 'Well, they won't even do it for me, so I highly doubt they'll do it for you.' There needs to be more recognition. There needs to be more acknowledgement of the fact that it's specifically in California. We wouldn't even have cannabis if it wasn't for the LGBTQIA+ community's fight to gain access to medicine for those experiencing HIV and AIDS.”
The historic 1996 Proposition 215 in California was set in motion by Dennis Perron after his partner, Jonathan West, died from HIV/AIDS, along with many of his closest friends throughout the 1980s and '90s. Without Perron's massive contributions to the movement, cannabis could still be illegal.
To help combat the homophobia still ingrained in the industry, Laganja supports continual education, de-stigmatization, and true safe spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community working or participating in the cannabis world. She told Weedmaps, “I think right now, it is very segregated. It's very women-run or it's very grow-run or it's very gay. There isn't really an open space for everyone to come and share. And I believe, ultimately, that that's how cannabis started, as a way for people of all different walks of life to come together.”
As an international performer with a cannabis-positive platform, she's been able to connect with diverse cannabis patients and consumers around the world. “I hear a lot of stories from queer people talking about PTSD and how they have used cannabis to overcome that,” she said. “And I think any time I'm able to connect with a queer person who is also using cannabis as medicine — and really sees it in the same way I do — that gives me hope. It encourages me to know that there are others out there who are looking for more people like myself to continue to break the stigma and make it okay for them to acknowledge that they smoke or to try the plant.”
One day, Lagajna hopes to open her own unique dispensary, complete with drag performances in a fun, accepting atmosphere. As she explained to Weedmaps, “I would like to have a dispensary that has a stage for multi-faceted performers … I would love to have my own strain, my own pre-rolls, my own wax. I have lots of dreams. Unfortunately, as I said, it's been very difficult as a gay male, more specifically as a female impersonator, to really get people to take me serious and to take the LGBTQIA+ dollar serious. I'm trying to carve out space and make it known that the queer voice is an important voice.”
Laganja is currently in the process of releasing her new single “Daddy,” coming out November 30th, while gearing up to release her new album HIGHconic this spring. She continues to advocate and work toward full LGBTQIA+ acceptance and recognition in the industry. She said, “We have to remember that cannabis started on a local level, so we need to still be able to keep it that way and have access for people of color and for queer people.”
Check out the products she loves right now.
5 products Laganja can't live without
Focus V Adam iLL Limited Edition Custom CARTA
The Focus V. Carta collaboration with Adam iLL is a limited edition portable dab designed by the Kosher Stoner. Complete with its own carrying case and quality parts, it delivers art and functionality in one go.
“[CARTA] collabed with my dear friend Adam iLL — who I have a streaming show with every Monday at 6 pm called Misters and Marys on Twitch. I love this product because A) it's good, and B) my friend Adam has been one of the only straight allies that I've had in the industry — specifically male straight — to put his arm around me and to really bring me into the industry. I've tried every electrical rig out there and I'm just so happy to finally have one that I feel really good about supporting.”
Moose Labs MouthPeace
Moose Labs MouthPeaces can go over your water pipes, rigs, and even joints.
“I've partnered with them a lot during quarantine, they have been one of the few cannabis brands to utilize my talents. Not once, not twice, but three times! It's meant a lot to me that this company has really supported me during this time, and that they find my art and my value crucial to their company and to their messaging. They're good people and their company represents what I believe in.
'I think, especially during COVID, it's really important that we take ourselves seriously — especially with others around. I find that it's amazing for each of us to have our own MouthPeace, and that way we're able to still pass the bong, pass a joint, whatever, and still have that community aspect of smoking that I love so much.”
Sonder Time Space Crystals
Sonder Time is the LGBTQIA+ run-and-owned cannabis company behind Space Crystals, a tangy, infused candy reminiscent of Pop Rocks.
“They're amazing, and I particularly love the flavor, Stoned Fruit. Obviously, I love that they're gay, I love that their products are super creative. Pop Rocks is something that I grew up with as a kid. And I really love them because of their marketing — I think that they are incredibly talented and creative. Can't say enough good things about them.”
Fruit Slabs, a women-owned brand, has been winning awards for their cannabis-infused fruit leathers since 2015.
“I had the incredible privilege of partnering up with Fruit Slabs two years ago. We created a new flavor called Pride Passion, which is mostly passion fruit with hints of lemon and lime and mango — they are made with real fruit, vegan, no sugar added, gluten-free, and kosher certified. They're tiny squares of fruit leather, 10 milligrams a piece, and it celebrates pride all year long when so many other companies celebrate pride just for the month of June.”
Laganja is a huge fan of flower as well, and one of her favorite brands is Maven Genetics.
“My favorite strain of theirs is Orange Julius. I am absolutely obsessed with it, it's just the most brightest, beautifulest sativa which helps me stay motivated and active. It also helps me be creative, whether that's in the choreography realm or in the drag realm. It keeps me level, it keeps me up throughout the day, and I just love their packaging.
'They're not queer run-or-operated or anything, but they definitely are LGBTQIA+ advocates and allies. So I feel great about that.”
Photo courtesy of Jon Sams. Graphic by David Lozada/Weedmaps.