Interview & photos by Dan Skye
“Everything I do, I treat as art,” says Tommy Chong. “Cars are just part of my art projects.”
Well, this time he’s produced a masterpiece—a tricked-out, electric-powered, 1946 Oldsmobile lowrider equipped with a vaporizer. He calls the car “The Ace,” and it’s the debut of the first revamped, electric-powered auto from Hippy Motors, Tommy’s new company.
As always, Tommy’s got a number of projects in the works. He’s shooting a TV pilot and writing a TV special based upon Shelby & Chong, the touring comedy act he’s formed with his wife. He’s also getting political: After his glass-smokeware company was busted in the federal raids known as Operation Headhunter and Operation Pipe Dreams in 2004, he spent nearly a year in jail. The experience transformed him into an ardent activist: Now he’s running for Drug Czar. (It’s an appointed position, but what the hell!) Plus he’ll be at the Cannabis Cup this year for Cheech & Chong’s induction into the Counterculture Hall of Fame.
Will this dynamic comedy duo ever reunite? Who knows? One thing’s for sure, though: One half of the legendary comedy team remains true to his stoner roots.
It’s been two years since you got out of jail. Do you harbor any bitterness?
No, I’m not angry at all. It was the icing on the cake for my career.
How did your family fare during your incarceration?
Well, it was shock to us—a big shock. Because we’re not criminals. We’re the opposite: We’re very generous, and everybody likes us. All of a sudden, this force comes into our lives, and no one would take responsibility. Everybody would say, “We’re just doing our job.”
It was a shock, but then again, it took Shelby only about a week to realize, “My old man’s in jail—let’s see what we have.” She got all our affairs in order. We had purchased property all over Canada, so she went to work consolidating all our holdings and turned everything into a little real-estate empire.
It looks like Mary Beth Buchanan, the US Attorney who directed the smokeware raids, is having problems.
Mary Beth is under investigation for those eight attorneys who were fired. That whole office is under investigation. They’ve politicized the whole Justice Department—or they tried to.
It started with me. They put my case in front of a Bush-appointed judge on trumped-up charges. But for Mary Beth, the chickens have come home to roost. They keep bringing up my case. I love it! She was trying to justify why I was busted. She said I was involved in selling “drug-cutting agents” and that they confiscated millions of dollars off of me. Our company was being audited at the time of the bust, and we were like a half a million in the hole. It’s all more lies. But the truth is coming out now.