Tommy Chong, the actor who rose to fame in the 1970s as part of the cannabis-consuming comedy duo Cheech and Chong, recently endorsed B.C. NDP leadership candidate Dana Larsen. Mr. Larsen is the director of the Vancouver Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary and the founder of the B.C. Marijuana Party. Mr. Chong played host to a Larsen campaign fundraiser Monday night in Vancouver. He tells The Globe and Mail why Mr. Larsen should be premier and when he thinks marijuana will be legalized.
Why did you decide to endorse Mr. Larsen?
My whole life, the right thing always appeared at the right time. Right now, I'm at the end of a reunion tour, looking for something else. The tour that we had was called "Get it Legal" and it was all about trying to get pot legal. And Dana fit right in there. He was the guy that I needed in my life at this particular time.
How would you sum up Mr. Larsen's chances to be premier?
His chances are excellent. It doesn't matter whether you get elected or not, the point is getting the publicity. Whether you hold office or not, that's one thing. But getting the message out there and having the millions of Canadians realizing that there is hope for them, whether we vote it in now or later. We're looking at probably the greatest premier Canada has ever known. I see that. He's young enough, he's got the right Barack Obama approach and Canada needs it.
How closely have you been following the NDP leadership campaign?
It's hard to with Charlie Sheen. It's hard to watch anything that doesn't have Charlie Sheen involved with it. In fact, that's the trouble with the U.S. You don't get any kind of global news. You've really got to watch BBC to find out what's going on in Canada. But I stay in touch with [marijuana advocate]Jodie Emery, I'm on Facebook, everybody's been keeping me up to date with Vancouver. Personally, I would have loved to have gotten into politics but I would have had to have gotten some kind of education first.
Is it too late for you to go into politics?
Oh yeah, I've seen what it did to Arnold Schwarzenegger. I don't want to be like that.
Do you expect to see legalization of marijuana in your lifetime?
Eventually. I mean, you can only be stupid for so long. There is a cutoff date on stupidity. It usually is death. Think about this, I will be 73 years old. That's how long pot's been illegal. I think I was put on this Earth because it's my job to get it legal.
You live in L.A. How much time do you spend in B.C?
I try and get at least four or five months up here [each year] … Vancouver's probably one of the most interesting places in the world. You can go to all of these different [cultures]without going 20 miles out of your way. It's great.
Mr. Larsen's fundraiser featured a Q&A with you. What question are you asked most often?
"Where's Cheech?" That's the first question. "Want to get high later?" That's the second question. "Who's Dana?" That'll be the third one.
Have you and Mr. Larsen planned more events for the future?
We'll play it by ear. More than anything, I'll be a conduit to the press. If we've got something to announce, good or bad, I'll be in there.
What are you working on now?
I've got an animated movie coming out. We animated our old record hits; it should be out in the summer. And I'm halfway through the next Cheech and Chong movie. I'll be writing and directing it. That'll shoot probably this summer. We've got a few more gigs to do, but we're right on the last legs. We're the rented horse that can smell the barn, you know?
This conversation has been edited and condensed.