TC: And so right after the operation, as soon as I got home, I got off the hard drugs and I got on to the marijuana. And it helped me right off the bat. I had no appetite in the hospital; that’s where I lost all my weight. But as soon as I got home and started smoking pot, I got my appetite back.
And then the other thing I learned while I was recovering in the hospital: I was in a lot of…discomfort, you know, from laying immobile for 5 hours while they operated on me, and then laying on my back after that to recover. And so I asked the doctor if it was OK if I did crunches, you know, like abdominal work. Because I could do that, I could do planks, I could do a lot of exercises laying on my back. And the doctor gave me the green light. So I would spend a great deal of my time doing crunches, and ab work, and working up a nice sweat. And so I think that really helped with my recovery, because it was within a month that I was walking and playing golf and getting back all the weight I’d lost. And now, like I said, I’m cancer-free.
I was injecting some cannabis oil right after the operation, to help with my healing. But that’s untested, and I stopped doing it, because I was a little worried about injecting anything in my body without knowing exactly where it came from, and everything.
I smoke a little pot, every day, and I’m healthy as can be. I just finished a golf tournament yesterday, and I did the whole 18 holes. I need to rest quite a bit, you know. Whenever I do anything, I need to take 15 or 20 minutes, maybe longer, to regroup.
But I’m dancing tango, and I’m playing golf, and I’m quite active, you know, and for my age and everything, and what I’ve gone through, I’m very happy. And I look good. I can not only do that workout, but I can do upper and lower body workouts with weights. In fact, I’m working on an exerciser that’s going to be on the market, for old people. For guys like me that have limited abilities to work out and stay in shape.
More than anything, the weed really helped with my mental state, because marijuana works on the brain. And if anything, it soothes the brain. You know that old joke about potheads having bad memories? Well, the bad memories are like pain, discomfort, and fear. So you lose all that, and the body reacts by healing faster and stronger.
Well, I’m really glad to hear you’re better, because when I heard the cancer came back, it sounded pretty dire. So this is very good news.
TC: Yeah! In fact, a lot of websites had me [as] dead.
OH: Well, all these guys are trying to make money off of any damn thing, you know.
TC: (laughs) Yeah, yeah, that’s a lot of hits, isn’t it?
OH: Yeah, I wasn’t even going to bring up what happened to you in 2003, because you really got railroaded on that one.1
TC: Well, I have no real proof on that, but my wife and I both agreed that I was healthy when I went in, and unhealthy when I came out, so that’s the only conclusion we could reach.
Although the diet was good. I had a special friend, you know, that worked the garden, we had our own garden, so I was eating healthy. But it was just the atmosphere that I was around, that toxic waste dump that they built the prison on, I’m quite sure that had an effect.
OH: Oh, yeah. And also, just being in there is so much stress, even if you weren’t in one of those nasty prisons where guards beat the shit out of people, it’s still very bad for your whole approach to life when you’re sitting there in a cage like that.
TC: It can be. You know, I actually turned it into a religious retreat, because we were allowed to…well, if you kept your nose clean and you behaved yourself, you had a lot of freedoms. Because it was minimum security; “Camp Cupcake”, we called it. It’s a Bernie Madoff kind of prison. And I was treated like a celebrity, so I never had that kind of stress. But the stress on my family…my wife having to fend for herself in this world…and that [eventually] worked out really well. But having the federal government come after you for something as innocuous as water pipes, you know…that was a little much.
George Bush, he paid the price. He’s in disgrace now, so the karma really came back on those guys.
And [as far as] the cancer…I look on everything with a very optimistic eye. Because I’m a body builder by trade, you know, that was my intent all my life. As soon as I discovered weightlifting, all I wanted to do – my plan in life – was to work out, lay on the beach, and get high…smoke dope. And that’s really what I’m doing.
OH: Well, that brings up another idea…the election couldn’t get much crazier. Have you thought of running for president?
TC: (laughs) Well, first of all, I’m not American-born, so I couldn’t pass that test. What I did, I endorsed Bernie Sanders, but you know, my take on the election is that I lived through Nixon and Reagan. We survived Nixon and Reagan and George Bush, and so we can survive anything that comes along. But I really sincerely believe that Donald Trump and the Clintons made a deal, and Trump said, “Don’t worry, I’ll get you elected. Just watch me.”
OH: Well, it’s pretty crazy out there, that’s for sure.
So your name is synonymous with smoking, but because you’ve been very concerned about your health, I was wondering whether you use a vaporizer at all.
TC: I use a bong. I kind of came up with my own bong made out of kombucha bottles. You know, there’s a kombucha that I really like, it’s a fermented drink that they sell in Whole Foods. And the bottle makes a perfect water pipe, because you can take it apart and clean it real easy.
So my preferred method of ingesting my medicine is the Tommy Chong Not-A-Bong. I don’t call them “bongs”, because they’re more like art pieces. Just before I got busted, I had an art show with my bongs, and I called them art, and the Feds never touched me!
OH: Man…you just can’t really get into their heads. They’re in some other world.
All of us heads from the 60s kind of gave up on legalization back in the 70s after NORML screwed the pooch with that crazy shit that went on. So what can you say now that it’s finally starting to happen?
TC: Well, you know, everything takes time. There’s a big shift in our whole way of living, and it started maybe 10 years ago when [smartphones] came into existence. Up until then, we were at the mercy of the press, and so-called experts that would tell us what to think and how to think. But now the [smartphone] has freed everybody, and so everybody gets better. No matter what you say, people will check you out on their phone. My take is that legalization [started coming about] because of that.
So, because they found out that marijuana works well on little babies with epilepsy, Sanjay Gupta of CNN did a big report on that. And when they found out that marijuana does have medical uses, it debunked all the myths and all the lies that the establishment had spread around about marijuana.
Marijuana: The New Bitcoin?
And so the policies have to change, because everything is exposed. We see the corrupt prison system, we see the corrupt police system, we see the corruption in the government, from the top on down. You know, it’s built based on lies. However, the marijuana industry itself, because it was an underground industry, showed us the way we could exist on this planet. Because marijuana has become like currency. Anytime you grow a crop like marijuana, or wheat, or corn, or anything that people consume on a daily basis, you’re [getting] into a huge economic area. By making marijuana illegal, the agricultural people can’t grab hold of it like they did with corn and wheat. So those companies are scrambling around trying to get hold of it, but they can’t, because it’s a cottage industry, and it will always be a cottage industry. Because the minute the big companies try to make it their own, like they did with soybeans…like Monsanto, they put their own patent on seeds, and you can’t do that with marijuana.
And it grows everywhere in the world. And it really is currency, if you think about it. Like when Mexicans sneak across the border, they’re more apt to carry a bag of pot then they are a fistful of money. Because the pot can be exchanged for money, anywhere in America. Anywhere in the world! You got a bag of pot, there’s someone who wants to buy it from you. So in a weird way, marijuana has [become] and is becoming the new currency of the world.
OH: I know some people like Bitcoin, and some people like good seeds, right?
TC: (laughs) Yeah! You can smoke it, you can eat it, you can wear it, it’s a perfect plant!
OH: I’d love to talk to you all day about weed, but your PR people really want me to ask about your new emoji app.
TC: Well, the emoji…there again, it’s like Bitcoin. It’s a way of selling my brand, with a very easy price on people. But it’s my brand, it’s my signature, it’s who I am. My emojis are spreading around the world very quickly, and people are picking up on them.
OH: It’s very cool.
TC: Yeah, they’re very cool. I think I’m the first to do weed-friendly emoji.
OH: What about your Chong’s Choice strains?
TC: How Chong’s Choice came about…we were approached by people who wanted to do strains. Like there’s a strain out in Colorado called the Chong Star, after Dancing With The Stars. But that’s only one strain. And what we did was we got a business partner who came in and put a distribution center for us: Chong’s Choice. All the top growers in the different states, they contact us and we make sure that they’re vetted, that what they grow is the best. And once we find the good growers, then we put our brand and packaging on it, and it hits all the dispensaries, and eventually it’ll be hitting the public, as the laws change.
But right now, like the Marlboro Man, I’m gonna have the Chong’s Choice brand for pot.
OH: And who better, right?
TC: Who better?!
OH: Yeah! And it’s 4:20, man. It’s 4:20 PM and I’m talking to you. It’s great.
TC: Isn’t it great? Yeah! Something good always happens at 4:20 for me.
OH: Well, I don’t want to keep you. I just want to say…thanks for being you.
TC: (laughs) Oh, you’re welcome, my friend. Call me any time.
OH: Thanks…and here’s my catchphrase: Nugs and hugs!
TC: Ha, nugs and hugs, I love that. Take care.
OH: Thank you!
1 Here Old Hippie was actually referring to the “bong bust” itself, which I discuss in the introduction – DF