Tommy Chong compared Donald Trump to weed four different times.
The comedian, pot advocate and cannabis-line celebrity was visiting Denver for the launch party of his cannabis line, Chong's Choice, and the addition of edibles and pre-rolls to the menu.
Chong sat at a round table with his son, grandson and some associates. Forty minutes later, Chong was on the ground, roaring like a lion at Gus, the five-year-old for whom he built a tree house in his son's back yard in Boulder. That tree house sits next to one for grandpa that will be a fully functional grow house in the next year.
"He's gonna be a star. He wants the attention," Chong says of Gus. Gus bolted around the room in a bright-yellow T-shirt while his grandfather wore a bright-red hat he sells that says, "Get America Stoned Again." The day led to a tour of Verde Natural's grow warehouse, which is run by an impressive team that yields some even more impressive buds. Chong tells the two growers who take care of his Chong's Choice buds, "You guys look like stoners. This is my reputation on the line, so thank you."
Westword: You have ties in Colorado?
Tommy Chong: Well, I love Boulder. Right here is what I love about Boulder. I love everything about Boulder, I love the people, I love the bookstore. I really love the bookstore. It's like a flashback to the '60s.
Before the '60s, I was with Motown, you know. and I had little pop cycle suits and straight hair, slicked back, you know. Then the '60s hit, and then freedom. I saw Jimi Hendrix, met Jimi Hendrix, played with him, and saw the way he dressed, and I said, that's me! And I haven't turned back.
Why isn't it Chong and Cheech?
Because it doesn't phonetically sound right. It never did. When we called it Cheech and Chong, we were first going to cal it Richard and Tommy, eh, boring. Mary and Chong, boring. I said to Cheech, do you have a nickname, he said yeah, Cheech. It was the first time I ever heard it. I said, Cheech and Chong, it just rolled off the tongue. Since then, we had a linguist in UCLA do a study, do a whole thing on the phonetics of it.
With me and Cheech, the only thing I said, we're gonna use my name. Because I had been in groups where you named them, Little Daddy and the Bachelor, Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers. So when Cheech and I became comedians, I said, it's gotta be our names. That way, Chong will live forever, Cheech will live forever. And that's exactly what's happened.
If reefer madness didn't exist, would Cheech and Chong?
I doubt it. In fact, I don't think you could have a Cheech and Chong in this day and age. Because we actually, we've always existed, the culture, the hippie culture. Really what the hippie culture was was allowing people to become themselves as people. Not as races of people. We all of sudden just become humans, with one thing in common: the love of the weed. And that has never changed.
Your message has grown.
Now it's international. I was in Budapest and had a kid run up to me and say, 'Oh, my God, it's you, oh, my God.' I said no, I'm not God, but thank you.
I love Budapest. I love everywhere. If you've got weed or weed mentality, you can go to jail like I did and enjoy it.
When you went to jail in 2001 for running a bong company, were you a martyr?
You know what I felt in jail? I felt like a celebrity in jail, wow. I spent most of my time taking pictures with people. People were like, how can you do this? I was like, it's my job.
I went to jail for bongs. It was a big raid on the bong industry during the Iraqi war, at the start of the Iraqi war. Bush needed a distraction, so he went after the bong makers. Because I was the most visible, most famous, they targeted me and I ended up going to jail for nine months. It was a very positive experience all the way around. I got cancer while I was in there, which wasn't good, but I beat it. It was just another challenge, and I had to face a challenge and did it.
How do you feel about the election? It was a huge win for cannabis. Do you have Chong's Choice plans set for the states that legalized?
That put a big smile on my face, and after I smoked some Chong's Choice, I realized that Donald Trump is going to be good for the world, and it put and even bigger smile on my face.
Donald Trump is like a strain of weed that popped up in the middle of an election season, and he was who he was. He had nothing to hide behind. His life became an open book. He never wavered from the fact that he was going to make America great again, build a wall, stop ISIS, do all these things. He was trying to get voted in. Not trying, he knew. He knew those deplorables, as Hillary called them, were in the millions, not thousands. Millions.
Trump, his talent is being able to understand everybody. It came a lot from his upbringing, working with builders and that. He knows Chicanos, he knows Latinos, he uses them in his business. He employs them. So he understands the makings of how people think. So his first job was to get elected. Now, how do you get elected? So what he did, he went out and did what he had to do to get elected. Now he's elected. His second job is to be president.
Because he's a liar, you don't have to believe the negative things. If you don't believe the positive things, don't believe the negative things. It was a sell. He was selling for the people.
Now he's elected. Did you see how his tone changed on Hillary? It was no more "Lock her up," "crooked Hillary" — now it was "Madam secretary." That's immediately where he went to.
He didn't turn presidential until he became president. Then the minute he became president, he turned presidential. Because that was the time. He couldn't do it before that, because people would look at him and be like, what a phony.
He's his real self. How can he become this misogynist, racist idiot and then become president? He's a liar. Actors are liars. Tom Hanks isn't Forrest Gump until he plays Forrest Gump, then he becomes Forrest Gump. As an actor, he did what he had to do to get where he is now.
It was like boom, a lightbulb went off in my head. That's who he is.
In your opinion, is he going to follow through on building a wall?
It's a metaphorical wall. He's a builder, and he's a liar. Contractors do that all the time. That's what contractors do; they're professional liars. You don't believe anything till it happens.
So that's my take on him. He's gonna be not only a good president, but a phenomenal president.
Will your opinion change if he goes after cannabis?
He won't. He won't go after cannabis. He's not that petty. Unless it concerns him, he just attacks when he's attacked. Cannabis didn't hurt him, he's not gonna hurt cannabis. Bush did because he wanted to take everyone's mind off of it and deflect on the hippies because they're anti-war. Trump is anti-war. Why go to war if not to bring something home to pay for the war? Go where the money is. Follow the money. ISIS couldn't exist without money.
I want everybody to just take a deep breath and realize that he is president. Just hope to God...don't even hope, but realize that he says what he has to say in order to get done what he needs to get done, that's it.
Nothing could have helped Hillary. You know what hurt Hillary? The Benghazi/e-mail thing. She handled it like a lawyer; she gave them respect. Lawyers give respect where none is due, and Donald doesn't give anybody respect.
He's a ruler. He's gonna be a good one.
Prop 64 in California is huge. In California, do you agree with the one ounce, the six plants?
All they're doing is throwing out numbers. The thing I like about Colorado, for instance, is that Colorado really is the experimental station, you know, the tried and true, I love the way they track from seed to sale. I love that. If they do that in California, perfect. Because it depends on your needs. What they're trying to do is they're worrying about things they shouldn't worry about. I always said, once pot's legal, your grandmother will grow more pot than you can smoke in a lifetime.
Facebook and Instagram recently disabled your Chong's Choice accounts. Will those corporate restrictions loosen?
I want those people to realize that cannabis is the Trump of the get-high world. There's nothing they can do to stop it; they've tried everything they can do to stop it, and it is still legal. if Facebook doesn't get on board, we're gonna find another outlet, and Facebook is going to go down in history. We got this far without them. We don't need them; they need us. It's like the telephone in your house. Who has one? If Facebook wants to play that game, that's what they're going to be. They're going to be the Kodak film of the entertainment business.
Look at what Trump did: He said, fuck off, I'm going to do what I want to do, and that's it. Everyone said, okay. That's it.
They're shook, we were all ready to jump on the Hillary train, and now we're here. The misogynist, the racist, everyone's got a taste of that in him.
To be clear, Trump might, but you don't condone racism.
He doesn't. He doesn't. Look at his past, look at his shows. Look at The Apprentice. He's getting the message, the urges to do what he does. If he hadn't gone bankrupt, then he wouldn't have run for president and we wouldn't be getting this change.
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