Tommy Chong’s place in the cannabis culture is legendary. Indeed, “Cheech & Chong’s Up In Smoke” was the piece that introduced many to the friendlier, less “Reefer Madness”-y side of the plant. After making the Cheech & Chong brand synonymous with cannabis, both figuratively and literally, Chong is turning his attention to selling the product that helped him find fame.
In this interview, Chong explains why he and his partners, Five Point Holdings, chose to focus their first launches in five states, details his day-to-day involvement in the business, and reveals which Beatle he has yet to get high with.
[Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length, style and clarity.]
Brian MacIver: How long have you been wanting to launch a dispensary line and why did you feel that now was the right time to jump into the dispensary business?
Tommy Chong: Well, legalization kind of took everybody by surprise, ‘cause we’d been sort of groomed to that black market thing, and everything was set up for the black market and that market was booming. All of a sudden, it’s a [legal] business. So right away the get-rich-quick schemers raised all kinds of money with bogus brands. They [had] no plan. All they [wanted] to do is raise money and that’s what they [did].
So we’ve been taking our time—just relax, no rush. We turned down a lot of fly-by-night deals because it wasn’t right. We’re doing it right where we’re starting slow and small, we’re owning the business. There’s no debt involved in our offerings. We’re going to grow slow, but we’re going to grow steady. And now we have a chance to become, really, the biggest marijuana retail outlet in the world—at least the most recognizable, for sure.
We got really good people spearheading our drive to get