Pubdate: Thu, 11 Jan 2007
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Elise Stolte, The Edmonton Journal
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)


Edmonton-born face of marijuana culture brings act home to Yuk Yuk's this week

EDMONTON - Edmonton's famous prince of pot may be 68, but he's still a
hero among young local stoners.

"Tommy Chong? He's a classic," says Justin Hourie-Peebles, 20, as he
leans over the glass marijuana pipes at Two Guys with Pipes in West
Edmonton Mall one weekday afternoon.

Hourie-Peebles estimates that he must have watched the original Cheech
and Chong movies some 20 times.

"He's a pretty cool guy. (When you watch his movies), you're so
badass, it's like watching South Park."

Edmonton-born Chong performs at Yuk Yuk's tonight through

Chong is a comedian whose stoner routine and lifelong support for
marijuana made him famous.

This support also landed him in the slammer for nine months after he
was busted in 2003 for shipping hand-blown glass bongs to a U.S. Drug
Enforcement Agency front store in Pennsylvania.

Since then, Chong has used the experience as fodder for a book, The I Chong:
Meditations from the Joint and a documentary, A.K.A. Tommy Chong. His
popularity spiked and he's been touring regularly since.

At Two Guys with Pipes, Ryan Cameron pops over as soon as he hears the
name Tommy Chong.

"He's good. More hippie-like than hipster. He's funny and he's pretty
smart about marijuana. He knows how to grow, like, a billion-dollar
operation," he says before going out on a break to share a joint with
an employee.

As a comedy duo, Cheech and Chong made six comedy albums and seven
films before separating in the 1980s. Chong went on to play Leo, the
old hippie in the television series That '70s Show. This weekend he
performs his show Dancing with the Stoners with his wife Shelby.

Store owner Jason Koehler, 34, vowed to get tickets when he heard
Chong was coming.

Koehler dropped out of university to start the shop 11 years ago. His
mother was horrified, family members disowned him and some will never
come around, he said.

The tiny incense-smelling shop boasts two autographed bongs and a row
of artistic water bubblers from Chong.

Six years ago, Chong loaned his voice to a radio ad when the store
expanded to a small chain.

Chong mocks stoners and their do-nothing culture continually, but just
by raising the profile, he helps legitimize the drug, Koehler said.

For that, Chong's a hero to him.

Chong's autographed bongs could fetch a good price on the market, but
they're not for sale.

"After he got busted, we just put (his glass) away. I don't think the
monetary value is as important as what it means to me," Koehler said.

"For pot culture, absolutely he's an icon." 
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