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Arts + CultureCultureOpen up, Cheech & Chong's Takeout's got the stuff

Open up, Cheech & Chong’s Takeout’s got the stuff

The stoner comedy trailblazers just launched a new cannabis delivery service. Tommy Chong lights one up with us about it.

Cheech & Chong’s Takeout—a new cannabis delivery service from pot-comedy pioneers Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong—doesn’t operate on stoner time. 

Launching February 1, the company promises that customers in most parts of the state will receive their orders in less than an hour.

Whether the delivery comes with an order to “Open up. I got the stuff,” will depend on whether the driver is old enough—or cool enough—to remember the duo’s first-recorded riff, “Dave.” In the skit, from Cheech & Chong’s 1971 self-titled debut album, Chong plays a pothead so stoned that he doesn’t recognize his best friend (played by Marin) when he comes over with some grass.

Today, weed delivery services are a dime [bag] a dozen, especially in San Francisco. What makes Cheech & Chong’s newest business venture a cut above the rest (other than speedy delivery times) are Marin and Chong’s “joint” pedigrees.

“The most important aspect of any operation has to be the pedigree that it brings,” says Chong, perhaps most recognizable to millennials and Gen Zers from his role as a hippie photo store clerk on That 70’s Show (and a terrific presence on Twitter). “If you want a good legal firm, you check around to see who has the best reputation. If you want a good surgeon, you do the research and find the best doctor for the job. So when you’re dealing with cannabis, getting the pedigree that Cheech & Chong bring to the field is so valuable.” 

Before pot connoisseurs like Fab 5 Freddy and Snoop Dogg took their first hits, Cheech & Chong were already trailblazers of stoner comedy—eventually releasing six gold records and eight films, including the cult classic Up in Smoke.

They formed their own cannabis company (in addition to solo businesses, Tommy Chongs Cannabis and Cheech’s Private Stash) and continue to advocate for the federal legalization of marijuana.

Their latest business venture, Cheech & Chong’s Takeout, offers flower, edibles, and extracts from each of their flagship lines as well as additional farm brands and Cannabis Cup winners that have won their stamp of approval. 

The company also promises early access to new products, special deals, and highly unique experiences like in-person delivery from the comedy duo themselves. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even reenact the “Dave’s Not Here” routine at customers’ doors.

I spoke to Chong about the new delivery service, why he prefers flower to edibles, and why marijuana must be legalized on the federal level.

48 HILLS Why start a cannabis delivery business now?

TOMMY CHONG I’ve devoted my entire life to cannabis. Spreading the word and passing the joint— that’s my job. So when we got into the cannabis business itself, we didn’t want to just open up a store like MedMen, making it look more than it is. A lot of people used Willie Nelson or Bob Marley’s names. But they’re just musicians that get high. 

So it’s not by accident or by greed that we’re in the position that we’re in, and now, with everyone at home during the pandemic, our decision to do the delivery service was so natural. It’s of the time. 

48 HILLS What is your daily cannabis use?

TOMMY CHONG My typical day? I have a Cameo on which I typically do birthday shout-outs. I usually have five to 10 a day and take care of that right away. Inevitably, someone will say, “I want you to light up with my dad,” so I get some from my office area where I have my different pot. 

I’m a hoarder. Especially being in the weed business, I can’t turn down a pipe or free weed, so my office is jam-packed with unopened boxes. I also use weed as part of my workout schedule because grinding weed is exercise. 

Once I smoke up, I am in a different mood and have to be led around. That’s why this phone is so great. When I have something to do, I’ll put the alarm on like 10 minutes before I have to do it because 10 minutes later, I’ll forget everything. 

Planning the Takeout takeover

48 HILLS How much weed do you have in your office at one time?

TOMMY CHONG I’ve got so much that I could never smoke everything I have if I smoked every day nonstop. If anything, I learned to be frugal with weed because back in the day, when I was playing music, a guy would come around the club and sell pinners, skinny little joints made out of marijuana dust. He sold them for a buck a piece, which was all we could afford, so that’s how we got our high. 

In a way, it kept my use down because, with anything, you can overdo it. If you do the right amount, it will help your playing, but if you do too much, it’s not the best. I don’t have to smoke; I can take it or leave it. But if I am told to smoke, I’ll smoke. 

48 HILLS Are you more of a smoking guy or an edibles guy?

TOMMY CHONG I’m into everything. But with my diet, I can’t get too much into gummies, and eating pot throws you off balance because it doesn’t hit you right away. But when it does hit you, chances are you’ve done too much. I do half a gummy, and if it doesn’t seem to work, I’ll eat the other half and get comatose for a few hours. Then my wife gets mad at me. 

48 HILLS I would have thought that after all these years, you’d have a higher tolerance.

TOMMY CHONG You don’t build up an immunity to weed. It’s impossible. It’s like building up an immunity to food. Yeah, you can fast for a while but eventually, you’ll be very hungry and eat, because the body says, “Hold on, buddy.” I know people have said that but that’s where the gateway thing comes from, that pot wasn’t enough for the junkies and they want the real high— the high that’ll kill you.

48 HILLS Do you remember your first toke?

TOMMY CHONG Absolutely. I was 17 playing in Canada’s first rhythm and blues band, The Shades, in Calgary, Alberta. The guy that turned me on ran this little jazz club we played at. He came up to me and said, “I got you a present.” He had come back from L.A. and handed me a Lenny Bruce record and a joint. The first joint I ever had in hand, so I put it in my pocket right away. I wasn’t hip to light it up right away, so he lit up his own and gave it to me. I took a toke and it felt so natural—like I’d been toking all my life. 

So next thing you know, I’m listening to Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman” on the speakers, and I could see a woman on a balcony looking out onto the street all alone with a glass of wine. That was my first experience. I went home that night with the joint and the Lenny Bruce record and the next day, I took one hit, got as high as I wanted to be, and put it out and listened to Lenny Bruce. 

The joint lasted me a month and the weird thing is, I never went looking for another one. I knew that when it was ready, it would appear. And sure enough, it did. 

48 HILLS I’ve read that you’ve smoked weed with so many celebrities and that George Harrison was your favorite smoking buddy. What made him such an ideal pot pal?

TOMMY CHONG Number one, he’s a Beatle. Number two, he’s one of the world’s greatest guitarists, and I’m a guitarist. Number three, we have a similar spiritual outlook. Number four, he sought me out, rather than the other way around. 

48 HILLS There are so many celebrities who are associated with cannabis today in comparison to when you first started your stoner comedy act. For younger people who maybe aren’t as familiar with Cheech & Chong’s catalog of albums and films and mostly associate weed with Snoop Dogg, for example, how would you sum up Cheech & Chong’s place in cannabis history?

TOMMY CHONG We were the catalyst of the whole movement. What Cheech & Chong single-handedly did, with the help of weed, was to debunk the lies about pot and Mexicans. They had demonized Mexicans with the illegalization of weed. Cheech & Chong brought it to the forefront of pop culture with our comedy and our films, namely Up in Smoke. We showed that the average American teenager would believe Cheech & Chong before they would believe the lies of the administration. 

48 HILLS Talk to me about some of the positive effects of marijuana and why you continue to push for its legalization on the federal level.  

TOMMY CHONG We have to get it rescheduled from a Schedule 1 drug (with no medical benefits) to a Schedule 2 drug (with medical benefits). 

Finding out how important it is for health was such a revelation. I’m half Chinese, so half my family is rooted in the traditions that go back hundreds if not thousands of years, and in their books, they talk about marijuana being an important herb when used sparingly and righteously. 

The thing about marijuana is that it’s not only medicine in that it calms the body, but it also gets the body high. When the body’s high, you’re so in the moment. When you’re in the moment, especially if you’re ill, your body can do its magic without interference. And pot gives you an appetite and it gives you an appetite for life. 

When the mind is calm, that’s when it can take in information and improve whatever you’re doing, be it music, architecture, art, anything to do with creating.

It can also make the user quieter. The biggest problem with the world today is that people are so quick to talk. But when you get high on pot, you tend to listen, be it to music, a lecture, your wife, or your grandfather. You see or you hear more vividly. 

Life is a gift from God—especially weed. 

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Joshua Rotter
Joshua Rotter
Joshua Rotter is a contributing writer for 48 Hills. He’s also written for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, SF Examiner, SF Chronicle, and CNET.

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