The one and only Tommy Chong has spent a good amount of his life fighting for the legalization of marijuana in the U.S.and Canada. In a candid interview with W5’s Kevin Newman, he talks about the outlaw aspect of using cannabis, the thrill of illegally getting high, his ongoing advocacy for marijuana legalization, as well as an arrest for his association with a glass pipe manufacturer with authorities suddenly claiming that they were “drug paraphernalia.” In what may be a surprise to many, instead of comedy, Chong had originally planned to pursue a a career in music. He started off in a rock band called the Calgary Shades and even had a chance meeting with music legend Jimi Hendrix in London.
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Tommy Chong, best known as one half of the comedy duo Cheech and Chong, celebrated his 80th birthday this year and admits to W5 to smoking weed regularly.
For most of his adult life, cannabis has been illegal, yet Chong has continued to smoke it openly and publicly.
The actor who is known for playing an endearing, hippie stoner is an opinionated activist for cannabis reform. In Chongs’s mind, weed has never been illegal, “so I never even give it any thought,” he says.
He was born on May 24, 1938 in Edmonton, Alberta, to a hard-working Chinese immigrant father and Scottish-Irish mother.
Chong spent the first few years of his life on what he calls “a manger, which was a converted chicken coop.” Growing up under-privileged in Alberta in the ’40s as a Chinese-Caucasian child was not easy. Chong says he was constantly teased and tormented by his peers because he was different.