REGION — In a celebration of today’s statewide launch of Cheech & Chong’s Takeout cannabis delivery service, comedian, activist and cannabis connoisseur Tommy Chong told The Coast News about his new company and his ongoing efforts to make nationwide marijuana legalization a reality.
Chong became a big name in the cannabis industry by offering a lineup of hemp and cannabis-related products. And while he is also known for getting high for fun, particularly in the iconic “Cheech & Chong” movies, Chong also advocates for hemp and CBD products that don’t contain the mind-altering THC component and help treat chronic pain and other ailments.
For Chong, 83, cannabis is a miracle plant with several different components that can be used as both medicine and treatments for serious illnesses and pains as well as a way to help people kick back and relax. Chong credits cannabis for helping him save his life from cancer twice.
“I firmly believe in the power of cannabis as far as the healing of the body goes,” Chong told The Coast News. “Cannabis gives you an appetite, it gives you a sense of humor… weed opens the mind.”
Now, Chong and partner-in-comedy Cheech Marin have launched their own cannabis delivery service that will be available throughout the State of California on Feb. 1, including right here in San Diego County. The service offers more than 300 products to choose from, including Cheech & Chong’s own line, and free delivery with no minimum purchase requirement and a 60-minute express delivery option as well.
“There are several distribution centers throughout the state with upwards of 100 drivers on the road at any given time, ensuring delivery to customers throughout California no matter where they are,” said Aaron Silverman, chief marketing officer of Cheech and Chong’s Takeout.
The delivery service pledges to bring “the absolute highest quality lab-tested, pesticide-free medicinal and recreational products that California has to offer,” with a range in vapes, edibles, concentrates, and of course, flower, according to the company’s website.
Chong said the delivery service was started partly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has ultimately forced more delivery services forward for other industries like food and grocery over the last two years of social distancing practices. Customers of Cheech & Chong’s Takeout will be able to schedule their delivery time range and follow their order status.
“We’re following all protocols to ensure safe and efficient delivery to customers,” Silverman said.
Besides his takeout gig, Chong has other plans to grow the future of cannabis.
“We’re looking at a cannabis-based monetary system,” Chong said. “That’s on the horizon as a new thing you can do with cannabis.”
Chong also wants to see the nation’s prisons and jails reformed too, adding he would like to team up with a cannabis company to create “rehab centers” for mental health needs.
At the top of the list for Chong is lobbying President Joe Biden to legalize cannabis nationwide. While recreational cannabis is legal in 18 states, plus Washington D.C. and Guam, and is allowed for medical use in 36 states, the federal government still considers the drug illegal.
The United State Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, classifies drugs into five different “schedules,” with the most restricted ones at the top and the least at the bottom. Cannabis, or marijuana, is currently listed as Schedule I, which means federal law deems it unacceptable for medical use and has a high potential for abuse— right alongside heroin, LSD and ecstasy.
In response, Chong wants to see cannabis moved to Schedule II, or a lower drug scheduling class. For example, although Schedule II drugs, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl and oxycodone are also considered dangerous with a high potential for abuse, they can be used for medicinal purposes with DEA approval, unlike Schedule I drugs.
Chong is confident that the nation will see cannabis legalized nationwide soon.
“It’s just a matter of time,” Chong said.
According to the Pew Research Center, a 2021 survey found that an overwhelming majority (91%) of Americans believe cannabis should be legal both recreationally and medicinally.
But local groups, such as North Coastal Prevention Coalition, are still pushing back against the legalization of recreational cannabis use in the cities of Oceanside and Vista, which have already moved forward with cannabis regulations and established businesses.
Currently, the cities of Carlsbad, San Marcos and Escondido do not allow dispensaries or other cannabis-related businesses to set up shop there, but delivery services outside of those cities can still access customers there.
For North Coastal Prevention Coalition members, cannabis is still a dangerous drug that they want to keep out of the hands of the community and particularly away from children. Many cannabis legalization advocates like Chong argue that cannabis is hardly dangerous, yet is considered more dangerous than cocaine, methamphetamine or fentanyl under federal law.
“We’ve got to get away from the myth that it is somehow dangerous,” Chong said. “It’s been proven to be so harmless and so effective as a medicine, yet when you tell these things to some people it’s just so hard for them to believe.”