Tommy Chong: The Most Iconic Member of The Cannabis Community

Tommy Chong was born in Edmonton, Canada in 1983. He is a son of a Chinese-National father and a Scott-Irish-national Mother. When he was a child, he moved to Calgary, Canada, together with his family. Tommy Chong was a wise and smart kid, but despite being a brilliant kid, at the age of 16, he dropped out of high school. He is one of the most exemplary and legendary members of the community and in the industry of cannabis. He was an image of inspiration and hope to the thousands of users in the cannabis community around the world, starting from his role in an infamous film in 1978, “Up In Smoke” until to his new line and forte in the production of cannabis. This man is undeniably extraordinary, being both a performer and an activist.

Career Life Of Tommy Chong

Although it was mentioned above that Tommy Chong worked in the world of film, this man’s career journey started in the industry and world of music. At the early age of 11, he started to play the guitar instrument, and at the age of 16, he was playing smoothly along with various bands in Canada. When he turned 18, he became a member of Canada’s first R&B band, the band ‘The Shades’, which was later renamed into “Little Daddy”. The band “Little Daddy” reigned in popularity and admiration for over seven consecutive years in Canada.

Later on, Tommy Chong formed other bands called “Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers”. While on tour with the soul band, the band’s lead singer Bobby Taylor discovered the Jackson 5 and started to receive credits and praise for discovering them.

In 1968, the band placed 29th in the United States pop chart and top 5 in the United States R&B chart because of their track ‘Does Your Mama Know About Me.’ Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers aimed for success because of this track piece written by him. It is no doubt that after this success, Tommy Chong was credited for writing the track ‘Does Your Mama Know About Me.’

After the short success, the band “Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers” disbanded due to some issues and problems between their producer and some band members. Tommy found ways to prevent it and even suggested some changes and remedies that could save the band, but eventually, it did not work. After this incident, Tommy Chong met Richard Marin, also called ‘Cheech,’ which marked the beginning of his successful lifelong career and made him more famous for being part of the comedy duo Cheech and Chong.

Cheech And Chong

Tommy Chong is probably known for his music, but he was even best known for his remarkable work and role in the comedy duo Cheech and Chong, with his partner Richard Martin. In 1969, while in British Columbia, Vancouver, he met Richard Martin, who escaped the Vietnam war draft and moved to the Southern part of California. Their meeting marked the Cheech and Chong collaboration and duo. They instantly began performing routines in stand up comedy, and recorded some of their known track music that talked and centered about the reign of drugs, and the counterculture of the hippie. The duo recorded 7 total of comedy gold albums, including the 1974 Grammy winner Los Cochinos. “Earache My Eye,” “Basketball Jones,” and “Santa Claus and His Old Lady” are their famous and best-known comedy pieces and routines.

The duo also entered the world of film and starred in a total of seven films, in which most of these films were co-written and directed by Tommy Chong. And with that, they have successfully made and produced one of the most iconic and classic stoner films that grossed over $100 million in 1978. This was with the movie “Up In Smoke”, where he was greatly recognized and praised, which made him more known and famous throughout the world. Because of their amazing comedy albums, films, and stand up routines and performances, the Cheech and Chong comedy duo has achieved widespread fame and success throughout the year of the 1970s to 1980s. And with that, this comedy duo career made Tommy Chong achieve the most significant milestone and success in his entire life.

Tommy Chong And Richard Marin

Although their collaboration and works were a success, just like every partnership and other businesses, the duo broke up. In 1985, the comedy duo released the Get Out Of My Room album, in which their hit song “Born In East LA” was featured. After this release, Richard Marin began working on his own and was building his solo career. The rumors circulating about the split of the Cheech and Chong duo were a mystery. Luckily, Richard Marin shed some enlightenment contrary to popular belief of their fans and to those who were affected by the breakup through his book entitled “Cheech Is Not My Real Name…But Don’t Call Me Chong”. Tommy Chong also opted to start writing with his sister-in-law’s boyfriend after realizing that he was sick of the “stoner comedy” routine, which always talks about drugs and sex.

His Relationship With Richard Marin

In the book that Richard Marin wrote, Marin informed the audience that the relationship he shared with Tommy Chong has always been a Love-Hate one. He also stated that after the release of Up In Smoke, which made Chong very famous and well known, things start to be difficult to handle, especially with Chong. He claimed that after the big hit success of Up In Smoke, famous Tommy began to develop big pride and ego, and was demonstrating megalomania. Marin stated, “It came to a point that Chong decided to be the star director and wants to claim that everything was his idea and should be credited to him. It even got to a point where I should tell him that his idea is just for him to be done”. After being into the comedy world and mourning about the Cheech and Chong tandem split-up, Marin began work and entered the world of acting.

Breakup Of Tommy Chong And Richard Marin

After the breakup of the comedy duo, Tommy appeared in various variety shows and programs. Richard Marin and Tommy Chong reunited in the early 1990s after their comedy duo broke up, and they started appearing and working in different films and television series together. In 2004 in the Toronto International Film Festival, a documentary film titled Tommy Chong was premiered. Tommy wrote and released a biography, titled “I Chong: Meditations from the Joint” in 2006. 

The majority of the content was centered on legal issues and his life and time in jail. In the same year in 2004, a rumor circulated about a reunion film of Marin and Chong entitled “Grumpy Old Stoners”, but the film was then canceled in 2005. Finally, in 2008, the duo Cheech and Chong successfully reunited for a comedy tour of the Light Up America comedy and have been showing and working together for numerous performances.

Tommy And Shelby Chong

Shelby Chong is the main partner in crime and wife of Tommy Chong since the year 1996. Shelby Chong acted in some Cheech and Chong films, appeared to be a supporting actress on the reunion, and built her comedy routine. She is with Chong and has accompanied him in most of his shows and performances between the ’90s to 2000.

Tommy Chong: Cancer And Weed

He announced that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012. He effectively fought cancer using hemp oil. In 2015, Chong contracted colon cancer and was using cannabis insanely to ease and endure the pain and treatment. Tommy is a firm believer of medical marijuana and its benefits for recreational use. When he was in Vancouver as a musician, he started smoking marijuana at the age of 17 when one of his friends handed him a joint. His first experience to marijuana was the start of a long love affair that led him to be the center and star of stoner comedy brands.

Although Chong seemed to be a heavy smoker of marijuana, he openly talked contrary to the popular belief that he is not smoking daily; hence, he admitted that he is a light smoker of weed. Being a well-known artist and a cannabis smoker, he had the chance to get high and smoke with some famous personality and celebrities. Chong attends protests and festivals, including the cannabis cup regularly, to show his sincere support for legalizing marijuana. Tommy Chong is a NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) member who works hard to legalize marijuana. He has launched his brand of cannabis products like flowers, vaporizers, oils, and more in 2016.

Legal Issues

Tommy Chong was involved in an American investigation tracing and tracking drug paraphernalia businesses. He was in federal prison for nine months and was roughly charged $120,000 because of his part in promoting and financing a company built by his son, the Chong Glass, or Nice Dreams. The time and experience of Tommy Chong in jail led him to realizations and made him a better person ready to fight for the legalization of marijuana.