13 Questions with Tommy Chong on His 81st Birthday

Stoner icon Tommy Chong turns 81 today, May 24. Here are highlights from interviews Freedom Leaf has conducted with Chong in which he talks about his long partnership with Richard “Cheech” Marin, the ending of Up in Smoke and other subjects from his 66-year-career.

When was the first time you smoked pot?

I was 17 years old at a jazz club in Calgary. A Chinese jazz musician brought back a Lenny Bruce album and a couple of joints from California. He gave me the Lenny Bruce record and the joint. We lit his joint up, because I saved mine, and I got high for the first time. It was the first time I ever smoked. It changed my life. The next day I quit school.

How did you meet Cheech?

He was a draft dodger from the States. He was the first Mexican I ever met, so I just wanted to touch him. When he met me, he’d never seen anything like me before either. I had real long hair, a Genghis Khan kind of look. He had real short hair, because he was dodging the draft from America in Canada and was trying to blend in. His name was Richard Marin.

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