Cheech &Chong will go up in smoke Friday at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel. So I got Tommy Chong on the phone for some high times. I’ve condensed our hour Q&A for brevity.
Elfman: “I interviewed you several years ago, and since that interview, all of the states are, one by one, getting rid of their stupid marijuana laws.”
Chong: “Yep. It’s happening.”
Elfman: “On your podcast, you said authorities bust marijuana users to get a higher class of prisoner.”
Chong: “Oh yeah. The marijuana people are the ones that end up running the prison. When I was in there (for selling paraphernalia), the potheads ran the gardens and kept the place nice and under control. They love them. The worst criminals are the embezzlers, the bank fraud guys, because they don’t like to work. The potheads, we’re tripping around, making everything look beautiful.”
Elfman: “That’s an interesting sociological study.”
Chong: “I was walking around the mall the other day, and I realized, ‘That’s what prison’s like. You get sentenced to one little area, and you gotta stay there all day. And you gotta sell your wares, whatever it is, but you’re not going anywhere. You get a break to eat and you get a break to go to a bathroom, but you’re in that one little room.’
“People tell me, ‘I couldn’t do prison time.’ Then you look at their life, and they are doing prison time.”
Elfman: “So you have said people figured out all these lies about marijuana, and the Internet helped people get that information?”
Chong: “Yeah. A good case in point is Sanjay Gupta, the neurosurgeon on CNN. He did this great show. He said he changed his opinion on marijuana through the Internet. The Internet showed him a little girl getting cured of epilepsy with marijuana. After Dr. Sanjay Gupta showed that, everything changed. Once a prominent doctor like that jumps to the other side, it’s over. Along with Cheech &Chong telling everybody it should be legal.”
Elfman: “I agree. I sometimes think of who the pivotal weed people were. I think it would be Cheech &Chong and Snoop Dogg and Woody Harrelson and Bill Maher and in podcasts, Joe Rogan and Doug Benson.” (I forgot Willie Nelson.)
Chong: “Oh yeah, there are people that did it inadvertently. Michael Phelps — here’s the biggest gold-winner of all time, relaxing by smoking a bong. You couldn’t buy those kinds of endorsements.”
Elfman: “I never thought about that.”
Chong: “Arnold Schwarzenegger was another one. When Arnold was winning Mr. Universes and Mr. Olympias — the only thing he would put in his body, he wouldn’t put in alcohol or sugar. The only thing he would do was smoke a joint. He got high. That was a big testimonial for me. I trained with him. I watched him. He was an animal. His diet was so strict, it was unbelievable. Yet, he would smoke a joint.
“William F. Buckley was a pothead. He was for legalization, a conservative pot guy. A lot of these alcoholics, the only way they could get off alcohol was smoking pot. I’ve seen it with heroin users too. The only way they could get off heroin was smoking pot.”
Elfman: “What is stopping anyone from grabbing a ton of seeds and dropping them all over the country like Johnny Appleseed?”
Chong: “It’s still illegal federally. And they’re putting people in jail. Don’t ever think they’re not. The United States government holds a patent on THC and pot. They’ve held it for many years. But this has been the dilemma all along: You can’t control this plant. These are gifts given to us by The Creator.
“My theory has always been that a lot of people get weird when they get high because they’re having an original thought. So many people are used to being told what to think. When they get high, they have this epiphany, like, ‘Whoa, why didn’t I think of that before?’
“That’s what starts it.”
Doug Elfman’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Email him at email@example.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.