Cannabis According To Tommy Chong: 'The Only Bad Weed Is No Weed'

Tommy Chong’s Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference debut started after a short, but fitting marijuana delay.

“I’m a typical stoner,” the cannabis and comedy icon said Tuesday. “I forgot.”

Chong, 82, and his comedy partner of a half-century, Cheech Marin, 74, announced in July that they struck a deal with Five Point Holdings to open dispensaries under the Cheech & Chong brand in Arizona, California, Illinois, Nevada and Washington.

While Chong has previously licensed his name to cannabis products, this is the first time the duo behind cannabis comedy classics like the “Up In Smoke” film and “Big Bambú” LP will market marijuana together.

Chong told Benzinga he welcomed a new granddaughter Tuesday by his son Paris. 

Born In East L.A.: The Cheech & Chong venture will start with dispensaries in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Those cities are “our base,” Chong told Benzinga Cannabis Editor Anthony Noto, tipping his hat to the Mexican Americans and Chicanos who came before Cheech & Chong.

“They were the ones that took the racist hit on marijuana being deemed illegal,” he said.

In 2003, Chong himself served nine months in federal prison after being prosecuted for shipping branded bongs and pipes across state lines. His cellmate was “Wolf of Wall Street” Jordan Belfort.

Chong & Chong were approached about licensing deals as soon as the marijuana legalization movement started, Chong said.

“Luckily, we waited for the right effort.”

Cheech & Chong’s Next Dispensary: When Cheech & Chong start selling weed, “we’re going to show the world how a dispensary should be,” Chong said Tuesday.

“They’re not going to be cold pharmaceuticals. All that paranoia is gone,” he said. “Every Cheech & Chong dispensary is going to be a hangout.”

For Cheech & Chong, California’s illicit cannabis market is no barrier to entry, he told Noto.

Unlicensed cannabis isn’t hurting anyone, Chong said.

“If it wasn’t for the illegal side, all these growers would have no outlets for their excess weed. Also, that’s untaxable money,” he said, laughing. “Maybe for the straight crowd it’s hurting somebody.”

Cheech & Chong’s immediate plans don’t include the Canadian market due to the country’s restrictions on celebrity promotion of cannabis, said Chong, who was born in Edmonton, Alberta.

Still Smokin’: A two-time cancer survivor, Chong said marijuana and CBD “got me off the opioids” after an operation.

All marijuana use is medical, he said: “you can’t deny that.”

Chong is now cancer-free and healthy.

Chong, who played guitar in the 1960s Motown group Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers, described some early dealings with weed when he was working in Canada as a musician.

A dealer “would come around and he would roll marijuana dust,” he said. “It wasn’t even bud. It was dust. In these little pinners. And he sold them for $1 apiece.”

That was enough to spark Chong’s creative spirit, he said. “I’ve been a one-hitter all my life.”

And while he may be one of the people most linked with the drug, Chong doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about strains.

“The only bad weed is no weed.”  

Tommy Chong lights up during a visit to Detroit in 2017. Photo by Dustin Blitchok. 


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Featuring live company presentations, insider panels, and unmatched access to networking, the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is where cannabis executives and entrepreneurs meet.

Join us September 13-14, 2022 at The Palmer House in Chicago, IL.

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