Interview: Tommy Chong on the New World of Marijuana
Tommy Chong is an icon of American entertainment and a new school entrepreneur. Tommy speaks with us about the new world of legal marijuana.
By: Chris Goldstein
Last week the CHAMPS Trade-show took place in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event featured the “Glass Games” glass art competition and hundreds of product vendors. Freedom Leaf magazine handed out thousands of copies of our latest print issue to attendees. Also on hand was mega marijuana celebrity Tommy Chong.
Tommy is always gracious with his time for fans and the cannabis reform movement. He has payed his dues too, spending 9 months in a federal penitentiary for selling bongs back in 2005.
Far from the stereotype of his movie characters in person Tommy is sharp, likes getting political and pulls no punches. Still, an overall, rather zen sense of humor prevails.
FL – So tell us about the new product line?
Tommy – We got a couple of of really cool things on display here: The Chong Roller and the Futurola roller. It’s an old design to updated to roll cold with a filter tip. This eliminates the roach where you waste a lot of product. These allow you to smoke very bit of your product. And it really rolls a nice size cone, not too big, not too small; just right. People really like it too. We sold everything we had already and had to ship in some more. The product is really good and we did some nice marketing photos where I look like “The Most Interesting Stoner in the World!”
When I danced on Dancing with the Stars and they called me the most interesting stoner. Laughs
FL – Being on DWTS really broke some stereotypes and got to put marijuana out there in a really mainstream way…
Tommy – A physical way too, without saying anything. Being up there showed that pot life is not the worst life in the word. I was competing with some top athletes…I outlasted all of them and I’m almost twice as old as most of them! That spoke for itself. The pot lifestyle and my advocacy are good things.
FL – So any talk of a spinoff with you; maybe Dancing With the Stoners?
Tommy – Well I was really glad to be a part of it. I used it more of a springboard to put me out there into a more serious and yet gentle approach. We’ve gotta get away from the “them against us mentality. We are the victims who have now been set free from the law. We can reclaim a normal life again. Pot people don’t have any enemies anymore. There are people either inside the culture or outside the culture. But those on the outside aren’t against us.
FL – Now that you have been traveling around to legal states what do you think of this new era for cannabis?
Tommy – This is it! It’s like the end of wars like Vietnam and Iraq. Officially hostility has ceased but there are still pockets of resistance around America. We are pretty good in the big cities but the minute we get off into the right wing states, Oklahoma, Idaho then there’s still a boundary almost. Right now we are heading so fast into mainstream… the Wall St people and hedge-fund people are falling over themselves trying to get in on the action. The great thing about it; as much as they are gonna try to make it like alcohol [marijuana] is not like alcohol it’s the opposite of alcohol.
But a lot of people still have fears. I’ve met people with stage 4 cancer who still won’t use it because of the law. We’ve gotta change that mindset.
FL- You mentioned those business types getting in on legal marijuana, aren’t the underground growers and dealers getting cut out?
Tommy – There’s no fairness in the business world, it’s a dog-eat-dog, a snooze-you-loose world. There’s people who don’t know anything about pot but they are learning quickly.
This is what I told the growers in Washington [State]: It looks ludicrous- all these new laws and new rules – whatever. Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. Whatever they say to do; do it. They want to increase the taxes; pay the taxes. It’s nothing compared to a 20 year jail sentence. I don’t want to hear anybody complaining…the great thing is we are changing the world one toke at a time!
This is like cell phones. 15 years ago you couldn’t get people to buy them…now people can’t live without them!
In few years people are saying this was illegal? When? Laughs
We are coming into a beautiful area of our existence, legalizing marijuana will start to coincide to world peace.
As we legalize pot and get away from alcohol we are going to have a much more peaceful and beautiful world.