Photo courtesy of Tommy Chong

Learn | 04.21.2023

Celebrating The Living Cannabis Legend, Tommy Chong

Join us as we pay tribute to the OG stoner comedian.

Stoners love to laugh at each other. Feasting your red eyes on a weed-friendly flick is a celebrated pastime our community wouldn’t trade for the world.

In honor of the many cannabis-centric movies made in recent years, we’re paying homage to the OGs, the first stoner movies from the first cannabis comedians who are still going strong today.

Join us as we celebrate the living cannabis legend Tommy Chong. 84 years old and still making stoners laugh (seriously, check out this music video with other weed legends), Tommy Chong is undoubtedly an icon within cannabis culture and beyond.

About Tommy Chong

Born May 24, 1938, in Edmonton, Alberta, Tommy Chong ended up moving to Vancouver, British Columbia, after graduating high school. For those unaware, British Columbia is a mecca for cannabis, so it’s no wonder where Chong got his love for weed.

Born to Chinese parents who immigrated to Canada in the 1920s, Chong started his performance experience by playing in a band dubbed The Shades. During his time with the band, Chong felt inclined to pursue a solo career in comedy, leading him to start performing his sets at the Blue Door Club in Vancouver.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is where Tommy Chong met Cheech Marin. From there, the two were practically inseparable. They formed a comedy duo and went on to perform at nightclubs in Canada and the United States.

After moving to Los Angeles, the duo began incorporating weed and cannabis culture into their comedy sets. Little did they know their sketches would make them household names and legends in the cannabis community.

Cheech & Chong

Photo courtesy of IMDb

Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin first made headlines in the early 70s with their witty and hazy comedy sketches. A huge part of their inspiration stemmed from the counterculture movement, and hippy-dippy potheads were eager to hear more from the dynamic duo.

It wasn’t until 1978 that Cheech and Chong released their debut film, Up In Smoke. Today, it’s still an all-time stoner favorite. Even people who’ve never smoked weed rave about the weedy misadventures of Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong.

Their first movie saw the duo traveling cross-country in a dank van. Their ride was made entirely of weed, and watching it putter from town to town with run-ins with the cops was a refreshing change in comedy at the time.

Up In Smoke wasn’t the last we’d hear from Cheech and Chong. They later went on to create more films like Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie and Nice Dreams, not to mention comedy albums that sold like munchie-curing hotcakes.

Both Cheech and Chong went on to become legends within cannabis culture. Chong himself eventually landed on the hit television show That 70s Show, where he played a stoney character we know and love.

A Hiatus From That 70s Show

Photo courtesy of IMDb

Perhaps some of the best scenes from That 70s Show are the many circle seshes that see the group huddled around a table, sharing a joint as the camera pans from toker to toker.

But there’s no denying that one man took the show into an even more cannabis-friendly space; the one and only Tommy Chong, who played the friendly pothead Leo Chingkwake.

But what the hell happened to him in season five? The actor made quite the presence in the first few seasons while working at the PhotoHut and following the group on their many journeys. When it came to the show’s fifth season, Chong had disappeared entirely and didn’t return until season seven.

During the show’s fifth season, in 2003, Chong was arrested and sentenced to nine months in federal prison for selling drug paraphernalia. That’s right, not drugs, but paraphernalia used for smoking weed, like glass pipes and bongs.

Even though marijuana was illegal in most states at the time, head shops everywhere were legally selling glass pipes and bongs. In Chong’s case, he was busted for selling his glassware to consumers in other states through Internet sales.

Instead of ignoring the controversy, Chong embraced it. He used it as inspiration to continue fighting for cannabis legalization and encouraging the U.S. government to reconsider its harsh laws against the plant. Today, he continues speaking out against the many injustices our community has faced.

In more ways than one, Tommy Chong is a living legend in the weed world. Alongside Cheech Marin, both celebrity stoners have made lasting impacts on our community for the greater good.

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