When it comes to illegal substances, Tommy Chong has seen and done it all and isn’t afraid to talk about it, especially in front of a crowd of 350 people piled into the Commons theatre Nov. 24.
“All marijuana use is medicinal, even if you’re trying to kill yourself,” said Chong when asked about legalization during a Q-and-A that evening.
Most know him as a marijuana activist and one half of the stoner comedy duo, Cheech and Chong, but during his two hour show at Algonquin, Chong opened up about his experiences with various other substances while reflecting on life as a Motown musician in the sixties and performing as Cheech and Chong.
While he currently avoids all drugs besides marijuana, Acid, he joked, was the glue that kept his marriage to wife of over 40 years, Shelby Chong, together.
“When you do acid together, you’re bonded for life,” he said.
He also shared stories about his long-time comedy partner, Cheech Marin and his experiences with different ways of ingesting marijuana.
“Lately Cheech hasn’t figured out the edibles,” said Chong. “In the seventies, we went to a concert and Cheech had no way to smoke his hash, so he ate it. He got so stoned, we were at a restaurant and Cheech didn’t eat. That’s really stoned.”
More recently though, Chong said Marin still doesn’t understand the potency of marijuana-infused candy.
“He ate the whole thing and he’s sitting in the cab with his piano playing wife and they’re high up there and he’s projectile vomitting,” he said, laughing so hard he could barely finish the story.
But the one drug Chong has never touched, is heroin. When asked by an audience member about his relationship with deceased comedian, Lenny Bruce, Chong said he had never met Bruce before his passing. However, he had developed a friendship with his stepfather, Tony Viscara, who he had once asked about the appeal of the drug.
“He reached into his pocket, pulled out a tab of heroin and handed it to me and said, ‘see for yourself’.”
Chong said he held on to the heroin for a few weeks, stashing it in his sock drawer, before finally flushing it down the toilet.
“I’ll stick with the weed,” he said with a laugh.
Cocaine, on the other hand, is okay on the first and second tries, he said, but the “third and fourth time, it all goes down hill.
“That’s why I think Donald Trump is a Coke-head!” said Chong.
Besides drugs, American politics and Donald Trump were also heavily discussed throughout the night.
Chong said that while, he doesn’t agree with most of what Trump has said, he’s not completely opposed to him winning the election.
“I wanted the apprentice to go on another four years, and it is,” joked Chong.
However, things took a serious note when the conversation turned to the recent influx in racism down south.
“The bigotry, the hatred that went on in the States, it’s still going on too. But what I love about what Trump did – he brought it out of the woodwork.”
He also told the crowd that he can relate to the ignorance and bigotry in many areas of the U.S. due to his Alberta upbringing that he compared to living in Mississippi.
“Any kind of bigotry is fear.” “It’s a fear, it’s an illness that can’t be cured,” he later added.
Also on the table was Chong’s stint on Dancing with the Stars followed by his bout with Colon Cancer, which he discussed openly and humorously.
“I literally danced my ass off,” said Chong.
“I found humour in everything. I looked on the bright side–I’d never done morphine before!” he later added.
He also opened up about his colostomy bag, saying he calls it “the Donald because its full of shit and hot air.”
Towards the end of the session though, things took a different turn as Chong gave an impassioned speech about how he’s found strength through all life’s challenges.
“How I got through jail, how I got through everything that went on with my life, cancer, is by staying in the moment,” he said. “And that was so important to me because it doesn’t do you any good to go in the past, blaming people, or something. It doesn’t do any good. It doesn’t do you any good to live in the future because you’ll never be there. You can only dream about it but you can never be there. The only thing you can really do is enjoy where your at at the time. And if you do that, you’ll never grow old.”