Tommy Chong is a Naturalized American treasure. Though he hails from North of the border his influence on the counter culture, cannabis community and antiestablishment is global. He’s an outlaw, a style icon, an entrepreneur, a writer and an actor; he’s a musician, a comedian, a philosopher, a husband, a father and a grandfather. Having survived prison, cancer and making 1984’s The Corsican Brothers, it seems nothing can faze him.
Colorado has been one of Chong’s favorite places the since the 1970’s when he first visited on tour with his seminal comedy group Cheech & Chong. The pair have broken up, reconciled and headed back on the road a few years ago. Evolving from small venues to colleges and then big arenas, now they’re back on college campuses and performing at casinos across the country bringing laughter to a country in a time when it’s sorely needed.
The Chonger was recently in Denver promoting his new line of Chong’s Choice cannabis (Click here to read an expert’s review of Chong’s Choice Indica Grape Stomper) and also being paraded through the local media circus. Twenty or so minutes in the company of Mr. Chong felt more like an hour or two during this trip of an interview. Sitting in a Cherry Creek hotel conference room, Chongster was was casually dressed in all black Chucks and socks with his and Cheech’s likeness emblazoned on them. On the table between the two of us sat a ‘Get America Stoned Again’ hat, which has become a staple of his wardrobe during the recent election cycle.
Warm and conversational, the late morning interview touched on a number of topics, meandered often. Joking about cunnilingus or riffing on his character from Half Baked filled the spaces between the regularly scheduled questions. Pushing 80 years old, Tommy Chong has not given a fuck in a great many years. He says what he wants and doesn’t have handlers hanging onto his collar tightening their hold when he starts rambling.
Below are the word-for-word thoughts Mr. Chong shared openly during the interview with Whaxy’s own Emmett Nelson:
On his first time smoking marijuana
When I first started smoking it was 1957, and a jazz musician gave me a joint and a Lenny Bruce record up in Calgary. I took the joint and I put it in my pocket—so he lit his own joint and I smoked pot for the first time. It was probably one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I’d smoke a couple of tokes and put it out. The joint lasted me a month and the Lenny Bruce album lasted me for my life. And you had to really respect it. You never knew when you were going to get more. Back then you never knew. That joint was very valuable to me. And I got to tell you, this isn’t the best for kids or anything, I smoked the joint and I think the next day I went in and quit school because I knew I wanted to be a blues musician. I was 17 or 18, I guess. So I quit school and started working day jobs and playing music at night. We put a band together. I wasn’t smoking regularly. I’d smoke whenever we had it.
On the evolution of his stage show
Cheech and I had broken up and I was on my own. Blind Melon Chitlin’ was my alter ego. I was in Boston. I went on after one guy, he looked straight but he was gay. He attracted a big gay crowd. And I did that character. I said, “Here’s a song I wrote one day when I was beating my old lady”, and I got booed, oh I got booed. Almost booed of the stage. One leg over my shoulder would barley make it now. I had to drop that from my show.
It was a death sentence a few years ago. If I didn’t act on it right away it would have been a death sentence for me. Again, cannabis didn’t cure it, but it helped me heal and it gave me a reason to live. It gave me the will to live. You know when you get the munchies, that’s really getting the will to live.
On President Elect Trump
“I think he’s going to be the best president we’ve ever had.”
Cheech and I were out on the road during the election and we were getting 50 percent Trump audiences. They were our fans. You know—Trump attracted the deplorables—those are our fans.
I’m against all the bigotry and building a wall and all of that shit. I’m totally against it. Then all the sudden, after the election, I realized this guy is a hell of an actor. I think he’s going to be the best president we’ve ever had. I’ll tell you why. He’s got experience. The apprentice. You think about it…what was his job on the apprentice? Being the CEO and designating jobs to people and seeing who did the best.
The nature of this campaign, he would not take advice or shit from anybody. That’s what we need in a leader. And when they talk about the nuclear codes and all that shit, don’t worry about that. All Trump’s going to do is…nobody know what’s he’s going to do. So they’re not going to be fucking with us.
On the future of America (and exactly how Trump cheats at golf)
Trump is a builder, and he’s smart. Yea, he’s had a lot of failures, but who hasn’t? You don’t win anything unless you know how to fail. Just like golf. I know for a fact Trump cheats at golf…this is how he cheats. If he’s on the green, he’ll trap the ball between his foot and his club and he’ll move the ball up closer to the hole.
He wants to win. He wants to win at anything. What resonated with me is, he said, “I’m a winner, I want to win.“ So when he negotiates with China or anybody else he’s going to get the best deal possible.
On the prospect of another mass shooting and gun control
You’re going to see gun laws change like you’ve never seen them before. He’s (Trump) going to go “Hold on. This is wrong.” He’ll call in these people dealing with this gun shit, and he’s going to say, “Listen man! This is what your product is doing and we’re going to have to do something about that.“
On cannabis legalization this election
This election opened my eyes. We have a whole electorate out there that voted with their hearts and not just the propaganda that was thrown at them. In their hearts they know that cannabis is good for you and it should be legal and there is no reason that it shouldn’t be legal. Every test has shown that marijuana isn’t addictive and that is the biggest thing.
On cannabis in prison
“So when I was in prison I would just think about the pot and I would get into that mellow mood.”
The thought of marijuana will get you high, you know its body memory. Just like when women are pregnant and certain smells will make them sick, and your body reacts to the thought or the smell especially. So when I was in prison I would just think about the pot and I would get into that mellow mood.
I was offered pot almost daily…by snitches. They were trying to bust me and I turned them down. The first time I almost didn’t turn them down but I had my dog, my buddy with me. He was my guide through prison. He’d been in all of his life so when they offered me he told them to get that crap out of here.
On life imitating art
You know the funny thing about prison; we had squirrels. I had one. It was a pet. He was out in the field. We’d go out there with the prison food, cause you couldn’t eat it yourself but you could feed the squirrels. It would crawl up your leg and you could feed it.