During the 1970s and early 1980s, the comedy team of Richard “Cheech” Marin and Tommy Chong brought a unique brand of reefer madness to audiences through a series of albums and films that presented them as bumbling stoners wreaking havoc in an uptight world.
Today, the duo is going one toke over the line into a very different direction by linking their Cheech and Chong brand into a new line of marijuana retail dispensaries.
In an interview with the Business Journal, Tommy Chong laughed at the question at whether the pair ever dreamed back in the day that their pot-smoking antics would evolve into a multistate business.
“No, no,” he exclaimed. “It was amazing.”
The new Cheech and Chong dispensaries are being created by Five Point Holdings Inc., a diversified cannabis branding company. Paris Chong, the comic’s son and business manager, is a director with the company, which recently announced a licensing agreement to put the Cheech and Chong brand in a new chain of dispensaries opening in states where recreational marijuana is legal.
While Five Point Holdings has not set an opening date on its dispensaries, the initial efforts will focus on Arizona, California, Illinois, Nevada and Washington.
Chong acknowledged that he was initially wary of attaching the Cheech and Chong brand to this line of business due to earlier inquiries from people who turned out to be untrustworthy.
“It was turned into a scam,” he recalled. “They were more into trying to raise money and not really following through with a decent plan.”
Currently, 11 states have legalized both recreational and medicinal marijuana; New York and Connecticut only allow for medicinal marijuana sales, and efforts to legalize marijuana have stalled in their respective legislatures. Chong is optimistic that a growing public sentiment favoring full legalization will enable this new venture to grow.
“We’re working on the theory that the laws are going to change as we go,” he said. “We’re going to open up in the tried-and-trued areas and then go from there.”
Still, Chong expressed dismay that his new endeavor will not be immediately available on the East Coast, adding he was “a little surprised New York is taking so long” in enacting full legalization of marijuana.
He also complained that marijuana is still viewed as an illegal substance by the federal government, which he attributed to a “a big government bullshit plan” to criminalize anything related to marijuana. But, he pointed out, that mindset is slowly changing.
“Now, it looks like we’re going to go back to the hemp products because hemp is slowly being…