The Drug Enforcement Administration and Western Pennsylvania District Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan are out to get me again! Buchanan is the woman behind 2003’s DEA Operation Pipe Dreams, in which the DEA went after “paraphernalia” manufacturers and distributors, and entrapped me for a business my son owned and operated called “Chong Bongs” (no doubt motivated by my reputation and what I represent). I bit the bullet and served nine months at Taft Penitentiary in California to keep my family out of jail, a prison experience I wrote about in my previous column “Valley Fever” in CC #70.
That happened years ago, but the same weasels are at it again: Buchanan decided to have the DEA raid the offices of Spectrum Labs in Newport, Kentucky on May 7, 2008. Spectrum Labs is behind such fine urine cleansing products such as Absolute Detox, Urine Luck and Quick Flush, but incidentally, they are also the distributor of the newly released DVD documentary about the DEA and my time in prison, “a/k/a Tommy Chong”.
In May, the DEA came bursting into Spectrum Labs’ offices in full riot gear with weapons drawn, terrorizing the five middle-aged women working at the time. The Feds refused to let the women leave for any reason and, according to the owner of Spectrum Labs, one woman was so horribly terrified she soiled herself. After the Feds ransacked the offices and hauled away whatever they could find, I went on the news to comment about the breaking story. However, no one has any details about what exactly was taken or why, because the indictment was sealed! I do know that the DEA took a few copies of the DVD during the raid (because they’re missing from Spectrum Labs), but thankfully it wasn’t the entire stock of 10,000 as previously reported in the news.
No charges have yet been filed, but this remains clear: a major urine testing/cleansing manufacturer and distributor has been raided, and the client lists, formulas, banking information, other investments – and who knows what else – may be in DEA hands for… what purpose exactly? Will the DEA put these businesspeople in jail and shut down their companies? Will they begin investigating the client information seized from these companies? How much information do they have exactly? No explanations have been offered by anyone. All the urine testing and cleansing businesses are still operating as of early June, and the only news about this latest major operation of the DEA – which could be the beginning of nation-wide DEA raids and arrests at drug-testing related businesses – is the little tangent about “a/k/a Tommy Chong” that I talked about on TV.
But is it just a tangent? Spectrum Labs is based in Kentucky, but the raid was orchestrated out of Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburg. The District Attorney there, Mary Beth Buchanan, prosecuted and entrapped me for Chong Bongs in 2003, and it seems like now she’s out to get rid of vital privacy-protecting cleansing and testing products – and possibly trying to suppress a movie that shows how sleazy the DEA can be! “a/k/a Tommy Chong” documents how I was set up by the DEA through crooked, underhanded means, and exposes the manipulative tricks they use. It’s enough to make you sick and outraged with the DEA – but maybe you will never see it, if they try to take every copy. Who knows? Regardless of what was seized from Spectrum Labs in May – whether it was DVDs or drug testing formulas – it goes to show how the US Federal Government and DEA are totally out of control, like a violent gang of thugs. It’s well known that DEA goons have often acted in a criminal manner, but that’s another story (or many other stories, really)!
What’s going on, Tommy Chong?
I turned 70 on May 24th this year, and have been more involved in marijuana activism than ever. My career as a comic has been entirely devoted to the joys and wonder of this magical herb, so now I want to further my education and learn all there is to know about my muse with my beloved wife Shelby beside me. I intend to travel to all parts of the globe documenting the history of the herb with indigenous peoples; I want to learn how the early inhabitants of the earth used this plant for food, clothing and shelter. I want to take part in the ceremonies that open the door to the spiritual world. I intend to travel to the Holy Lands and find out how this herb was used in the early stages of Christianity, and how rebel Jews found enlightenment in the herb and traveled the known civilized world spreading its seeds, turning on whomever they met. It’s our turn to do the same! I’ll record and share my experiences and travels with the readers of Cannabis Culture, because there are so many stories and ideas I want to pass on to the world. My journey has already begun, so let me kick back, light one up, and think about more interesting stuff to write about!
The Bush era is coming to a close, and though he has been a horrible president and a lousy leader, his gang of opportunistic criminals did the country and the world a service by putting the US Constitution to the test. Even though the criminal Bush family did everything wrong, and the country is in a recession as a result of their mismanagement, we are still here. The world may be warming at an alarming rate, but the birds still sing and the flowers and trees still grow. The variety and availability of weed is more wonderful than ever, medical marijuana clinics are popping up all over the place – and for every one the Feds raid, three new ones open up. New York potheads have their weed delivered via courier, so one can receive his pot before his pizza delivery arrives. Non-violent drug offenders are being released from prison because it’s impossible to afford so many inmates. Companies all over the US are rejecting drug-testing requirements because of the still-growing use of the weed by workers. Life goes on, and no matter how hard these right wing nuts try, nothing can stop evolution. Change has to happen, and being aware of the True Reality is what we potheads look forward to with each toke.
One of the most common government prohibitionist arguments against legalizing the herb has been “we need more research”, but the Federal government stops anyone from doing research by denying the permission required! In response to this continuing madness, I plan on starting a non-profit organization called the Marijuana Research Institute (MRI), where we will research the many uses for pot, from fuel for automobiles, to medicine for patients – and even preventative medicine for non-patients. The funding for MRI will come from myself and other individuals friendly to the movement; after all, if most current cannabis “studies” are funded by prohibitionists to promote negative (and often untrue) findings, we activists need to counter with sponsorship and research of our own. I’m creating MRI to carry out research and compile statistics showing cannabis in all its true glory. We will also promote responsibility by creating a list of possible negative side effects of marijuana, which can help people decide whether or not they should use it.
Another one of my projects is teaming up with Cheech to do a series of concerts with a good part of the proceeds going toward marijuana research. My new book “Cheech & Chong: The Unauthorized Autobiography” will be out around the time you read this. You may have read my previous book “The I Chong: Meditations from the Joint”, or parts of my column in CC #68’s Vansterdam issue “ Tommy Chong’s Vancouver”, but my roots are really explored most thoroughly in this new book. And it puts some persistent rumors to rest, like the one where Jimi Hendrix and I were in the same band in Vancouver – we weren’t, although I have heard people say they saw it with their own eyes. The grain of truth in that is I did get to jam with Jimi for a few breathtaking hours in England in 1967 while touring as part of Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers. I remember the intense next-day excitement of playing lead guitar to Jimi’s left-handed bass, when I blurted out “I’ll be bigger than Jimi one day!” but quickly added, “not with a guitar, though”. Writing this book made me feel that I have made a mark in comedy and entertainment, but I think my fans and history will be the judge of that. Anyone who likes my records and movies will enjoy the inside story of how it all came about in “Cheech & Chong: The Unauthorized Autobiography”. That’s it for now dudes, so smoke easy and love forever!
Rock On, Tommy Chong!
By Jodie Emery
On May 28th Tommy dropped by CCHQ (Marc Emery’s Cannabis Culture Headquarters), where CC magazine, PotTV, the BC Marijuana Party and BCMP Vapor Lounges are located. Tommy is a good friend and regular CC magazine contributor who drops by whenever he’s in town. On this particular day we had two gifts for him: a pot-leaf-shaped guitar called “The I Chong” made by Dan Davidson of Sweet Leaf Guitars (www.sweetleafguitars.com) and a very cool coil bubbler pipe with “Tommy Chong” sandblasted on it made by Hot Karl of Bodegas Glass.
PotTV’s “Marijuana Man” Greg Williams filmed the gift presentation in a show with Tommy, Marc Emery and me (www.Pot.tv and www.youtube.com/PotTVNetwork — or click here to go directly to the PotTV video) before we moved upstairs for the photo shoot and jam session with the new guitar. Tommy is a sweet, funny (and sometimes flirty!) guy. After doing the first video for PotTV, we went on the rooftop where Tommy serenaded me with the guitar and posed for our photographer. I then led him indoors to the second floor, above the main-floor CCHQ store, where a drum kit and equipment for a jam session were waiting. We called in two local band members to play drums and bass for Tommy’s guitar riffing, and together they performed the three-song blues jam session that you can watch and listen to at www.youtube.com/PotTVNetwork and www.youtube.com/JodieEmery or watch the three videos below:
It was an honor to hear the very talented Tommy Chong play the guitar and sing. We’ll have to convince him to put out a record! After all, his roots are in playing music, as he’s written about in previous columns. Tommy said the space had “awesome vibes”; he had seen the second and third levels of our building in March before we took them over, and both were huge, dark, filthy spaces that had been neglected for many years. But now the third floor is the new BCMP Vapor Lounge, a gorgeous bright open space with Volcano vaporizers at every seating area, original brick walls, large skylights, enormous windows, Foosball and billiards tables, an Internet station with free wireless, and a wide range of yummy and organic munchies. The second floor is now filled with an expanded store selection of products like books, clothes, bongs, and more. We also have a brand new genuine convenience store across the street called “420 Convenience” to spruce up the neighborhood and sell all sorts of goodies.
After touring the newest additions to our building’s “Hempire” with yours truly, Tommy declared that he loves what we did with the place and would like to do comedy and music shows in the near future. He signed “The I Chong” guitar and dedicated it to the new “Tommy Chong VIP Lounge” on the third floor, where it will be displayed and available for visitors to photograph themselves with. Tommy promised to come back to CCHQ and do more shows, so we’ll share all that with CC readers in future issues.
• Marc Emery’s Cannabis Culture Headquarters & BCMP Vapor Lounges
307 West Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, (604) 682-1172