From Comedy to Cannabis: Cheech and Chong’s Capitol Power Play

SACRAMENTO — Hollywood’s most famous stoners are making a power play at the California capitol. If you’re old enough, you may remember Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong for their comedic marijuana movies.

The comedy duo made pot-smoking part of American cinema in the 1970s, and now they’re bringing that same spirit to the legal cannabis industry.

Cheech Marin, now 79, and Tommy Chong, 86, have their own brand of cannabis products. Their company, Cheech and Chong Global Holdings, recently registered with the California Secretary of State to hire a lobbyist. Jonathan Black, who works for the company, emphasizes that this move is no laughing matter.

“They are my bosses. I talk to them quite regularly,” Black said to CBS News. “They are highly intelligent gentlemen who care about cannabis use, right? It’s pretty serious. We’re trying to protect the hemp-derived drinks we have in the state of California right now.”

Dennis Bozanich, a California marijuana consultant, noted that the state of the industry is in distress. He explained that the initial promise of a booming market quickly faded.

“The promise of the big wave of cash and resources lasted about 18 months,” Bozanich said. He attributes the downturn to excessive greed within the industry.

Bozanich also pointed out that what was once described as the Wild West now suffers from too many regulations and taxes. These constraints have forced many businesses to close.

He estimates that there is now only a third of the businesses compared to when recreational weed was made legal in 2016.

Cheech and Chong are stepping in at a crucial time as California’s marijuana businesses struggle to survive. Their company’s decision to hire a lobbyist underscores their commitment to advocating for the cannabis industry.

At the end of this month, Cheech and Chong Global Holdings will have to file more paperwork with the state, detailing their expenditures and the specific issues they are addressing.

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