Stoner Comedy Pioneer Tommy Chong Turns 80
While 4/20 might be the official ‘unofficial stoner holiday,’ May 24th remains a significant date in marijuana lore in its own right-it’s 1/2 of the legendary comedy duo Cheech and Chong’s birthday. Today especially, is an extra special celebratory day for potheads and marijuana advocates alike, as the stoner comedy pioneer Tommy Chong turns 80. Chong, who has advocated for legal marijuana since his early stoner comedy days, is now beginning to see his dreams come to fruition. By 1965, Chong and his band, Bobby Taylor and The Vancouvers, signed with Gordy Records and recorded their debut eponymous album. After releasing two additional singles, the group broke up after Chong and bandmate Wes Henderson were fired from Motown for failing to acquire green cards to become U.S.
citizens. Chong then returned to Vancouver, British Columbia, to run a couple of local strip joints with his brother. After settling on the name ‘Cheech and Chong,’ the soon-to-be-infamous comedy team released their self-titled debut comedy album in 1971, which was nominated for a Grammy. The duo would go on to release four more Grammy-nominated comedy albums, including Big Bambu, Los Cochinos, Cheech & Chong’s Wedding Album and Sleeping Beauty. He ended up serving 9 months in prison for the endeavor, with many questioning the ethics of the case and whether or not Chong’s status as a stoner comedian caused his ultimate downfall.
In 2012, Chong announced he was suffering from prostate cancer. In 2015, Chong stated that his cancer had returned, this time colorectal. Now, Chong gets to enjoy the fruits of his, and so many other cannabis pioneers’ labors, through his own special brand of weed: Chong’s Choice, which is available in dispensaries throughout several weed-legal states.
Marijuana Legalzed In California As Of Jan. 1, But New Laws Still Smoky
Marijuana, the recreational drug that has launched a thousand comedy and dramatic bits on TV and film, will become legal in California as of January 1st. Now the problem is navigating the crazy-quilt of regulations and law enforcement that will still govern marijuana’s use and possession in the state. Thanks to the passage of Proposition 64 in November, 2016, legalizing the sale and cultivation of recreational marijuana for adults, California will be the biggest state to legalize by far. Despite the proposition passing by 57 percent, it still remains controversial in some quarters, and governments are not fully behind the movement. Los Angeles is a prime example of the hurdles in the new law.
The city delayed accepting applications for legal sales until Jan. 3, causing a delay of weeks in any recreational shops opening. Other places – like California’s Kern County – have banned commercial activity. Even though recreational use is now legal, you can’t smoke it in public, or within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare center when children are present. Smoking weed from legal establishments will also be more expensive than street versions, thanks to the taxes imposed by the state. California anticipates generating a billion dollars in new revenue from recreational sales within a few years.
At least one business has embraced the anticipated new wave of recreational use. Jack in the Box Inc. has partnered with a digital media company backed by Snoop Dogg on a new munchie meal for hungry smokers, becoming the first national fast food chain to formally embrace the marijuana user community. The meal features two tacos, french fries, onion rings, five mini churros, three chicken strips and a small drink.
Marijuana in ‘It’s Complicated’ Contributes to R Rating
The rumpus comes amid informal discussion about tweaking the ratings formula, particularly where R is involved. The M.P.A.A., a trade organization financed by the major studios, has ruminated about dividing the R rating into new categories. Nancy Meyers, who directed the film, declined to comment, as did Universal and the film’s producers. If the difference between a PG-13 and an R rating can be tens of millions of dollars at the box office, the last thing studios want is to slice the pie thinner. Some in the industry see something deeper at work, arguing that the trade organization is on its best behavior because it has a lame-duck leader in Dan Glickman and because Congressional elections will take place next year.
The Federal Trade Commission harshly criticized the movie industry this month for inappropriately advertising movies with PG-13 and R ratings to children. Instead, the ratings board was concerned about what the movie did not have: a negative consequence for the behavior. The board, according to these people, thought the scene was uproariously funny and could leave children with a strong message that smoking marijuana is fun. The opposite, of course, could be argued: One way to make young people think that marijuana is uncool is to show the white-haired Mr. Martin, 64, smoking it.
Ms. Graves said the board has grown more strict about drug use over the last two decades. It is hard to argue that cannabis has become anything but more routine over the years. There are now about 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries in the Los Angeles area alone, according to city estimates; as a point of reference, there are fewer than 300 Starbucks outposts.