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After 65 years of smoking weed, Tommy Chong has returned to the format he started with at the age of 17: a joint.
Cannabis “is my life’s work,” the cannabis advocate, comedian and actor told Benzinga during a virtual press conference Monday, showing off a homemade bamboo joint holder he uses to cool the smoke.
On Wednesday, Chong is launching his brand of pre-rolls in Michigan with in-state production partner MKX Brands in a dozen strains at a starting lineup of 20 dispensaries.
The first production run of the pre-rolls is sold out and a second batch is in production, with plans to add more dispensary locations where Chong’s pre-rolls will be available, said MKX Brands CEO Sam Kaoud.
Chong said he hopes to sell so much product “that it will be worth our while to get invested into grows.”
This is the latest development in Chong’s long history with the Great Lakes State, from playing guitar with the Motown band Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers in the 1960s to numerous appearances at venues like the Ann Arbor Hash Bash and B.D.T. Smoke Shops.
The last time the 82-year-old professional stoner came to Michigan, he said he was stopped at the airport, where the TSA found a “big jar of weed” in his son’s knapsack.
“My son threw me under the bus” at the TSA checkpoint, Chong said with a laugh. (The two escaped unharmed and with their stash intact.)
Michigan voters legalized medical marijuana in 2008 and recreational marijuana in 2018 with ballot questions. Recreational cannabis sales in the state began Dec. 1, 2019.
Chong On What The Pandemic Means For Cannabis
Chong, who’s been vaccinated for the coronavirus and said he’s eager to return to Michigan for a visit, said the last year has made clear that cannabis is an essential medicine.
“The pandemic really shot down a lot of myths — the lies — about cannabis that were floating about for years,” he told Benzinga, adding that bars were closed while dispensaries were open, and many of those bars will never reopen.
Cannabis is “sobering up the world,” he said. “Everybody’s becoming sober. Alcohol was the biggest problem.”
Chong, who served nine months in federal prison in 2003 for selling branded bongs online and shipping them across state lines, called on President Joe Biden to strip cannabis of its Schedule I DEA status and acknowledge its medical benefits.
“What I want the government to do is grow up,” the “Up In Smoke” star said. “Reschedule it. That’s all. He [Biden] can do that from his office with the stroke of a pen.”
The plant's DEA scheduling is “just pure racist law,” he said, adding that he’s working on efforts to free people who remain imprisoned for cannabis convictions.
“There are still people in jail right now in states that are legal that are doing life in prison for something that is deemed essential and legal.”
Where To Buy Tommy Chong’s Pre-Rolls In Michigan
Chong’s pre-rolls go on sale Wednesday, May 5 in Michigan. The initially available strains are Cherry Punch, Donkey Butter, Cookies & Cream, Crunch Berries, Triple Chocolate Chip, Wedding Cake, Banana Daddy, MAC Gas, Purple Triangle Kush, OG Cookies, Purple Ghost and Now & Later Cookies.
The following medical and adult-use stores are carrying the pre-rolls:
Metro Detroit: Shango Hazel Park, THC Detroit, Herbal Healing, The Flower Bowl, House of Dank Centerline, Herbology River Rouge
Bay City: Herbology Bangor, Fire Creek Bay City, Hashish Boyz, Dispo
Lapeer: Pure Lapeer, Xplore
Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti: Exclusive Ann Arbor, The Patient Station
Jackson area: Pinnacle Addison
Border towns: Pinnacle Morenci, The Nest Camden
Kalamazoo/Battle Creek: Great Lakes Holistics, Fire Creek Battle Creek
Grand Rapids: Exclusive Grand Rapids
Tommy Chong with the pre-rolls he's launching in the Michigan cannabis market with MKX Brands. Courtesy photo.
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